Three-headed flying lizards that spit lightning. Amphibious goggle-wearing Nazi super-zombies slowly slaughtering shipwrecked vacationers. Blond, alien children with glowing eyes and deadly minds. Killer bimbos, corpse grinders and toxic avengers. Man-eating plants, brains, insects, lesbians, zombies, werewolves, queerwolves and musicals ...
If any or all of the above interests you — or if you find yourself lurking in the shadowed crevices of video stores every Saturday night — chances are you belong to that special collection of odd birds who seek out those filmic freaks of nature, no matter how low the budget or mentality. Therefore, you’re an ideal consumer for the revised and expanded VideoHound’s Cult Flicks & Trash Picks.
For its second edition, edited by Carol Schwartz and Thomas Video owner Jim Olenski (who claims to carry at least 90 percent of the titles listed in the guide), the Hound has added over 250 more deviations from the norm, thanks to suggestions from caring cultists and trash lovers. It begins with a brief (I mean almost not there) foreword by B-movie crusader Bruce Campbell (the Evil Dead trilogy).
Trying to define films that are “cult” or “trash” is as slippery and elusive as a slime-covered, underground, mutated homeless man. These movies can stalk and hunt genres from sleaze, horror, sexploitation, blacksploitation and anime all the way to propaganda-inspired accidental masterpieces such as Test Tube Babies or Reefer Madness. They’re those notorious movies people obsess over and can’t seem to squeeze out of their minds. If you need more of those just plain wrong, bad and weird films, the guide is meant as a substantial starter plan to help introduce you to old favorites or the sick and newly discovered. With more than 1,300 reviews-descriptions (all with a “Woof!” to “Four Bones” rating), you get a pretty good idea of what to expect from the films. But take the rating with a grain of salt; one man’s cult classic is another man’s chamber of horrors.
One of the guide’s more valuable aspects is the highlighting of cult and trash contributors in its “The Hound Salutes” category, featuring guys like the self-proclaimed “prince of puke,” John Waters. Most likely, you’re familiar with Waters’ Baltimore-flavored transvestite crap-eating bad taste, but if you’ve never heard of director Jess Franco, the “dark prince of Eurosleaze,” you’re in for a sweaty, panting treat. The Hound heralds Franco as taking the “erotic horror” inherent in Hammer Studio vampire films and concocting his own Spanish signature mix of sex and nightmares. Give yourself an early birthday present and meet Franco’s Ilsa, the Wicked Warden (aka Greta, the Mad Torturer). She’s beautiful, alluring and fascinating, but there’s one thing wrong with her: “She’s mad, raving mad!”
Women imprisoned for harmless traits, such as nymphomania, lesbianism and prostitution, are hosed down, shocked, burned, stabbed with pins and, worst of all, they aren’t allowed to wear panties. They’re screaming, moaning and comforting each other to the sound of jungle bongos in the distance. If you have an aversion to bootlicking, skip it.
And if you’re not already familiar with the well-respected works of Russ Meyer, Cult Picks can help you decide which sex-obsessed classic to start with, like maybe Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Meyer’s ode to Smalltown, U.S.A. Parading his usual fare of outrageously endowed (why don’t they just fall over?) busty beauties, the film focuses on the unsatisfied sexual tribulations of Lola “hotter than a Mexican lunch” Langusta (Francesca “Kitten” Natividad) in a medley of lecherous old men-with-coffin fetishes, epic poetry and lots of bouncing. It’s all permeated by a carefree atmosphere that’s the equivalent of an adult puppet show.
The book has helpful indexes (only referring back to its own contents) that include anything from alternative titles to directors to crazy categories. There are also super-ultra-valuable lists of Web sites, fan clubs and books that can pretty much take over the rest of your life like an overbearing and decomposing mother bitten by a rat-monkey. Not every sick movie you’ve ever seen is included — that would take volumes. I couldn’t find the Barbara Eden film where she’s impregnated by an alien, begins to consume grotesque amounts of meat and absorbs the complete contents of books just by touching them. And not all movies listed are still available.
But if you’re not afraid to creep into the clammy alleys of unrestrained psychotic psyches with bad makeup, bad accents and bad bad, pick up a copy.
E-mail Anita Schmaltz at firstname.lastname@example.org.