Posts Tagged ‘fab press’

9781903254776

If you look back over the history on this site, you’ll see that although there are literally dozens of postings in my “international weirdness” category by now, there’s one country that’s very conspicuous by its absence — India. That’s no accident. Truth be told, even though the Indian film industry is the largest in the world, Bollywood in general represents a sizable (as in vast and yawning) gap in my personal cinematic database. It’s not that I don’t care about sampling the numerous celluloid delights it has on offer, it’s just that there are so many that I almost wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Enter good friend to this blog Todd Stadtman, master of ceremonies over at Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! and a regular contributor to sites many (heck, most) readers here are probably familiar with such as Teleport Cityio9, and The Cultural Gutter, among others, who’s seeking to erase the dearth of knowledge myself and others shamefully find ourselves saddled with single-handedly with his impressive new full-color volume from FAB Press entitled Funky Bollywood.

Billing itself (quite rightly) as an exploration of “the Wild World of 1970s Indian Action Cinema,” this “selective guide” is a bona fide crash course in the classics and less-than-classics one can find on offer when one delves into the vastly populated (like the nation they hail from) smorgasbord of flicks from the heyday of curry-flavored exploitation, and is written in such an engaging and accessible style that it’s sure to appeal to “newbies” like myself,  while its simultaneous inclusion of a wealth of behind-the-scenes knowledge (not to mention a treasure trove of stills, poster art, etc. — all reproduced with the same care and exacting eye for detail that FAB has taken with previous cult cinema tomes like Robin Bougie’s Graphic Thrills and Steven Thrower’s Nightmare U.S.A., thus establishing their reputation as the “gold standard” for publishers of “this sort of thing”) and production details  will certainly shed new light on many a movie that even die-hard fans of the genre had previously been unaware of. I’m sure it sounds cliched as hell to say “there’s something in here for everyone,” but — there’s something in here for everyone.

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For newcomers like yours truly, though, this volume represents one heck of an eye-opener, since I’m not any more familiar with stars like Feroz Khan, Shashi Kapoor, Zeenat Aman, and Parveen Babi than I am with the films that helped establish their legend such as WarrantBulletShalimar, or James Bond 777. Just a handful of pages into Stadtman’s magum opus, though, was all I needed to convince me that I’ve seriously been missing out.

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Like many of you out there, a new movie obsession is probably the last thing I need, but it’s hard, when reading through Funky Bollywood, not to want to consume everything Stadtman surveys that you can possibly get your hands on. I’m still in the process of getting my feet wet (as a tip for the budget-conscious, I humbly offer up the fact that YouTube isn’t a bad place to begin your explorations), but with a book like this serving as my travel guide, I’m bound to find more out-and-out gems — as well as diamonds in the rough — than I would if I were flying blind. I’m especially appreciative of the pages the author devotes to the composers who provided the amazing psychedelic/psychotronic musical scores to many of these films, and can now proudly state that my ear can differentiate between the work of R.D. Burman and Kishore Kumar with relative ease.

Don’t fret, though — the good guys, leading ladies, heavyweight vilians, and directors who made Indian action, western, and spy films what they were during their heyday are all covered here, as well, and I think I can say with relative ease that even if you think you know everything there is too know about all of them, you’re going to be in for more than a few surprises and revelations here.

If you’re getting the impression that no stone is left unturned in this book, I’d say you’re spot-on in your guess. This is an exhaustive study that remains eminently readable — shit, downright fun, even — despite its being probably the most thorough-going examination of its subject ever committed to print (at least in English). It’s a relatively fine line that Stadtman has to balance here, providing enough detail to be of interest to veteran fans of the genre while eschewing the kind of “information overload” that can scare away those who are more wet behind the ears, but he does it well and makes it look easy. My hat’s certainly off to him and if and when I ever plunge into an immersive project like this of my own, I only hope that I can do it half as well as he has.

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Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Funky Bollywood, though, is simply this — before I opened this book up, I hadn’t seen a single flick mentioned in it, and now I want to see them all. That’s the very definition of a  captivating read right there.

FAB Press Ad Sheet for Volume 1 of "Motion Picture Purgatory" by Rick Trembles

I’ve been remiss in not mentioning the work of Montreal cartoonist Rick Trembles and his incredible “Motion Picture Purgatory” on this blog before, but with a second collection of Trembles’ strips recently published by FAB Press, now seems as good a time as any to rectify that situation.

In short, Trembles hit some years ago on a genius idea so obvious it’s amazing no one ever thought of it before — reviewing movies in comic-strip form. It’s a natural, really, since both comics and film and, you know, words and pictures, it’s just that one features movement and the other doesn’t. So utilizing the comics medium to critique film is about as natural a combination as I can imagine.

I can’t really think of any other cartoonist whose work closely mirrors that of Trembles, but I think the intricately detailed “Quimby the Mouse” stuff by Chris Ware probably comes closest stylistically, and while in some strips in the late 90s/early 2000s the Ware influence is pretty pronounced, as time has gone on Trembles has really developed his own unique artistic style to go with his own voice, which he’s always had. I could go on and one about how Trembles structures a page and works the film’s themes and plotlines into the layout of his visual reviews, but, assuming it won’t get me into any sort of copyright trouble, I’ll just reprint one here and let you see for yourself —

Rick Trembles "Motion Picture Purgatory" Review for "Thriller" (a.k.a."They Call Her One Eye")

Trembles covers a wide variety of films in his reviews, which are published weekly in the Montreal Mirror free paper and available for viewing on his website http://www.snubdom.com, but 70s grindhouse fare, particularly of the horror variety, is nearest and dearest to his heart. He’s not a one-trick pony, though, and everything from documentaries to comedies to golden age Hollywood classics to Ray Harryhausen (for whom Trembles’ admiration is obvious) to animation to recent Hollywood blockbusters and everything in between has come in for the Trembles treatment. In the recently-publishes Volume 2 of his collected works, for example, he covers films as varied as “The Deadly Spawn,” “The Gods of Times Square,” “Fight for Your Life,” “Cloverfield,” “The Manson Family,” “Pontypool,” “Things,” and “Visitor Q,” to title-drop just a few!

Volume 2 of the Collected "Motion Picture Purgatory" by Rick Trembles

Anyway, his stuff’s a blast, and his unique brand of genius — a term I don’t throw about freely — is seriously unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. Not only is he one of the more creative and inventive cartoonists around, he’s also one of the best film critics working today, period.

Both volumes of his collected work are available directly from FAB Press (who also have an exlusive hardback edition of the second book unavailable elsewhere) or at any major online book retailer like Amazon, and are seriously worth the price. End of free, but very well-deserved, plug.

Cover for Volume Two of Robin Bougie's "Cinema Sewer" from FAB Press

Okay, in fairness this book came out in August, but I just got around to finally finishing it and can safely say that Volume Two of Robin Bougie’s “Cinema Sewer,” billed (quite correctly, as it turns out) as “The Adults Only Guide To History’s Sickest and Sexiest Movies,”  from FAB Press, is even better than the first and is the must-have movie book of 2009.

As with the first volume, this is a collection of stuff largely reprinted from Mr. Bougie’s magazine of the same name (this new collection highlighting work from more recent issues within the past couple of years), with some important new material included for good measure, and is the same great combination of semi-pro film history criticism and underground cartooning that made the previous book such a goddamn joy to read.

Topics and films covered this time around include ultra-sleazy 70s porn staple “A Climax of Blue Power,”  second-rate biker flick “Chrome and Hot Leather,” John Carpenter’s all-time horror classic “The Thing,” the deservedly notorious “Emanuelle in America,” a history of  the rather more unbelievable episodes of TV’s “Diff’rent Strokes,” including the two-part story “The Bicycle Man” featuring Gordon Jump as a pedophile after Arnold and Dudley, a look at one-of-a-kind cable access show “Industrial Television,” a detailed examination of the history of MST3K favorite “Manos : The Hands of Fate,” a solid overview of the career of the one and only John Holmes and a great review of  the criminally underappreciated Wonderland Murders-centered flick “Wonderland” starring Val Kilmer as Johnny Wadd himself, and waaaaayyy too much more to mention.

Whether your interests lie in classic grindhouse and exploitation B-movie fare,  overlooked Hollywood gems, great horror, old-school, shot-on-film-like-it-should-be pornography, 1980s teen sex flicks, extreme modern porn, underground alternative cinema, weird TV, or any combination thereof, you’ll find hours of reading that’s right up your alley in this splendidly sordid collection.

Get it — now! That’s an order!

Not that I’ve got the right to order you around or anything.

The Most Fun You'll Have Reading About Trash Cinema

The Most Fun You'll Have Reading About Trash Cinema

Just a real quick heads-up for those who don’t already have it—the collected edition of the best of Robin Bougie’s extraordinarily bizarre “Cinema Sewer” magazine came out a few months back from FAB Press, and I have to say, even with all the absolutely terrific books on exploitation films that have come out in recent years, such as the late, great Bill Landis’ and Michelle Clifford’s superb “Sleazoid Express,” Stephen Thrower’s huge and indispensable “Nightmare USA,” and others, Mr, Bougie’s book is probably the most flat0out fun you’ll have reading about trash films.

The book collects the very best of the first several issues of the magazine of the same name, and adds a nice selection of new and updated material, as well. Mr. Bougie is a talented cartoonist, and the “half-book/half-comic” feel to the whole proceedings makes for a fast-paced, fun, and informative read. In addition, Bougie covers some truly bizarre stuff that you’re not likely to find written up in any other zine (“Let My Puppets Come,” for instance) and presents everything in a witty, accessible style.

I can’t sing the praises of this book highly enough, I had an absolute blast reading it. It’s available directly from FAB Press on their website (fabpress.com, of course), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the like, or directly from Mr. Bougie himself at cinemasewer.com, where you can find individual back issues and other goodies for sale, as well.

Bougie has been absolutely instrumental in exposing Z-grade masterpiece “Things” to  a wider audience, so what more does he need to do to prove his bona fides than that, I ask you? So stick your head into the Cinema Swer—sure, you may come out smelling foul, but you’ll have a great time getting messy!