Wednesday, 17 December 2014

MONDO 2015

Just a few things to look forward to in the new year.

THE ONLINE STORE 

First off, we are setting up a new online store that will supply backlist but also lots of new, exclusive offers. Watch this space for more info as it becomes available.

The first of the new lines will be red box releases of Blu Rays, starting with The Fan in February. This will be limited to 500 numbered copies. We’ll be giving more details later when we have them. The Fan will also be available as a retail Blu Ray/DVD combo on March 10th, a few weeks after the red box version goes on the website.

 Later in the year there’ll be a red box exclusive of Girl Slaves of Morgana le Fay. This will be limited to 666 numbered copies and will have a totally different sleeve design from the DVD release. More info when we have it.





NEW TITLES 

Other new titles for 2015 include The Spider (Zirneklis), an amazing sex/horror film from Latvia. Yup, you read that right – LATVIA! It’s a really great film that we think will surprise a lot of people.



We’re also going Greek with a new line of Hellenic exploitation goodies. The first two releases will be Tango of Perversion and The Wife Killer.

Tango is a really great exploitation gem from 1973. It’s got everything that you would expect from that vintage: masses of politically incorrect behaviour, dollops of sleaze, naked scenes galore, drugs, voyeurism, necrophilia, even a little bit of Greek psych-rock. In fact… is there anything this film hasn’t got?

The Wife Killer – the Greek title was the much less queasy Crime in Kavouri – was originally released in the US in 1976 as Rape Killer. We’ll probably avoid that title for obvious reasons…

 The film is very close in style to the Italian giallo thrillers of the 70s and is another Hellenic exploitation gem. It has the same male lead as Tango – the wonderful Larry Daniels, known to his mother as Lakis Komninos and still active in Greek film and theatre to this day.



All three of the above will be brand new telecines and in the case of the Greek films, in English and Greek language dubs.

Burn, Baby Burn!

Finally, we’ll be putting out a very limited number of backlist titles as burns. This is just to satisfy the small trickle of orders we get for titles that are about to run out of license. More info on actual titles when they are available. But these will be very small numbers, less than 100. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. That’s it, folks!

Have happy hols and see you in 2015. Thanks for all your interest and support and please let us know your thoughts or comments on any of the above. We’re here to listen.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

WENG’S CHOP, MONSTER!, and the Rebirth of the Fanzine.


















A retrospective is often a sign that its subject is en route to the dusty top shelf of history. With the recent publication of John Spuznar’s essential Xerox Ferox: the wild wild world of the horror fanzine, it might reasonably have been assumed that the epitaph of the print based film ’zine was being recorded. And quite right too; surely its present day heir is the blogosphere and the Tumblr page. But no, against all the odds, we seem to be entering a second golden age of print-delivered, film based goodies.

It’s sometimes hard to believe, but there once was a time “before the internet”. Back then, if you wanted to check a fact or research an arcane area of cinematic activity, you had to either know somebody who knew something or search out a rare written record. And very often, with obscure movies, the fanzine was the place to look. Then along came the worldwideweb and Wikipedia. With such an easy-to-access resource, people seemed to stop researching and begin repeating. The internet made it too easy. Received wisdom became the order of the day. It’s as though there was a quality about having to put your thoughts in print that had made the whole enterprise more serious, more rigorous back in the days of ‘zines. Maybe a bit like the difference between films shot on “film” and those originated on video.

There were fanzines in the 50s and 60s, but the boom years were from the late 1970’s and into the 1990s. This was the time of Gore Gazette, Deep Red, Sleazoid Express, Ungawa!, Slime Time, Psychotronic and many, many more. The video explosion of the early 1980s had made numerous exploitation goodies available for the first time outside their original theatrical exposure and this was doubtless one of the factors that influenced the rise of the ‘zine. Here were a host of artefacts ignored by the mainstream, by-passed by academic critics, forgotten and unloved by the many, and therefore ripe for rediscovery by a new generation of zealous crate diggers. No film and no film-maker was deemed too lowly or too marginal to be the subject of a fact packed 10 page article or a career length interview.

Gradually, as happens with all living things, the energy leaked away. The pressure of other activities, earning a crust, having a family, or just plain old burnout, took their toll on the ‘zine world. And then came the worldwideweb… and we all found a new place to dwell.

The web’s a wonderful thing, no mistake, but one of the problems of the digital domain is that it’s a great leveller. Everything tends to assume the same degree of importance (or lack of). Easy availability makes things somehow less interesting. And before you know it, you’ve ended up watching a marathon of Big Bang Theory catch ups rather than staying awake all night to review the entire Shaw Brothers Black Magic series. 

Many things (vinyl records, VHS cassettes, folk music), once they seem on the verge of vanishing, tend to acquire almost mystically a second lease on life. So it has been with the humble film ‘zine. Perhaps it was the very intangibility of the digital world that made people nostalgic for a product you could actually hold in your hands (and read in the crapper). Gradually, over the last few years, the print ‘zine has started to make a comeback.

Tim Paxton was one of the pioneers when it came to promoting weird world cinema. His zines Video Voice, Highball, Naked! Screaming! Terror!, Monster (and then later Monster! International) had a broader scope than many, delving into the arcane and the overlooked no matter where it originated from. And now he’s back (if he ever went away…) with Weng's Chop. In collaboration with Brian Harris and Tony Strauss he’s created one of the truly great contemporary zines. Which isn’t really a zine at all: it’s a book. The current issue (number 6 – although the series began with Number 0) which comes with three different cover designs, is a massive, heavily illustrated, 240 numbered pages in an outsized format.



Weng’s Chop raises the bar. This is film writing as it ought to be. The editors have assembled a fine gang of both novices and seasoned old hands from the ‘zine and publishing world, including Steve Fenton, Jared Auner, Kris Gilpin, Jeff Goodhartz, Greg Goodsell, Louis Paul, Doug Waltz, Dave Zuzelo, Krys Caroleo, Vicki Love. A recent issue (#5) includes the first of a three part series about Jungle films; articles about the Horrorthon, Pollygrind and Knoxville film festivals; the Mr Vampire series; the restoration of the much reviled Manos the Hands of Fate; Filipino vigilante films; articles about regional horror; an overview of the Johnny Wadd series; a valuable interview with Leon Isaac Kennedy; book and film reviews and much, much more. 

As noted earlier, one of the strong features of WC is its coverage of non English language films. In this issue, Part 7 of Tim Paxton’s continuing investigation of Indian cinema’s outer edges focuses on Kanti Shah, producer/director of more than two decades worth of horror and exploitation films from the real underbelly of the Bollywood industry. Paxton’s energy and enthusiasm here is heroic. He doesn’t just talk in general terms, screen a few films and then bang out his opinion piece. No, he actually watches them all. Or as many as time and brain cells will allow, which in the case of the prolific Kanti Shah is a hell of a lot of films. That’s the essential nature of the true ‘zine creator: going multiple extra miles in search of that last ounce of buried treasure long after earlier investigators have wearied of the task.

Fanzines and their creators and contributors seem to march to the beat of a different drum. Fuelled by their enthusiasm and their indefatigable curiosity, with no grants from public bodies or rich patrons, they feel themselves compelled in some mysterious way to scout the back roads and byways of popular culture and to preserve their discoveries for future generations to wonder at. They are the archivists of the arcane and long may they thrive and prosper.

 Anyone who has even the vaguest interest in the kind of things that Mondo Macabro are doing is going to find much to relish in Weng's Chop and its spin off Monster! Get them all now, while you still can. They’re going to become collectors’ items soon enough and then you’ll kick yourself for having missed out.

- Pete Tombs

















You can buy issues of both Weng's Chop and Monster! on Amazon and Creatspace.com.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

ALL HAIL THE LUFF!

A brief and slightly belated thanks to the Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival (LUFF – pronounced “loof”) who invited me to be on the feature film jury this past October. Now in its thirteenth year, the festival presents a selection of edgy, independent cinema alongside a programme of music and performance spread over five intense days. The constant interplay between different disciplines creates some fascination fusions, a lot of lively debate and some serious alcohol abuse. The festival is not one for lightweights. With the first shows kicking off around 2pm and the last performances finishing around 4am, there’s not much time for sleep. Fortunately I did manage to squeeze in a visit to the nearby museum housing the Collection of Art Brut, an essential experience for anyone passing through the city.

Lausanne, like Switzerland itself, is a very prosperous, very “first world” and very comfortable place and the LUFF represents a violent eruption of the avant garde and the anarchic into the very heart of this most polite of locations. Standing on the terrace of the festival venue (a former casino) and gazing across the misty surface of Lake Geneva to the distant mountains of the Rhone-Alps in France while bass heavy drone and percussive beats erupt from the performance hall below is an alarming but inspiring experience. The festival poster, seen plastered on walls all over town, sums it up: a graphic representation of two spools of celluloid film threaded round a bobbin. It looks, kind of, like a smiley face. But… wait a minute – it also looks like a giant penis.

Impossible to list all the highlights, but here are some of mine: a performance by one of my musical heroes – Morton Subotnick; an unforgettable and moving presentation from Bryan Lewis Saunders and John Duncan (Under the Influence of Torture); Robert Curgenven’s electro acoustic soundscapes. Film wise – the world premier of a feature banned in France in 1968 – Jean-Denis Bonan’s La Femme Bourreau (The Female Executioner); getting to see Trent Harris’s Rubin and Ed on the big screen in 35mm; the French cinematheque programme of archive treasures, including Franco’s Les Demons; introducing Andrew Leavold's The Search for Weng Weng to an audience of 800 screaming fans in Switzerland’s largest theatre; and the winning feature film – Joel Potrykus’s Buzzard, featuring the brilliant Joshua Burge.



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Pete Tombs on the firing of Jaqueline Laurent-Auger

Jacqueline Laurent, an actress who appeared in a couple of Jess Franco directed films that we released on DVD has apparently been fired by her employers , Montréal’s Le Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf where she has taught theatre for fifteen years. The reason they give is that she appeared in films “aimed at adults”. A strange justification for the sacking of a 73 years old, very experienced actress for parts she played some 40 plus years ago. There has not been any suggestion of any form of improper conduct by Jacqueline Laurent in her present role within the school. It seems that the mere fact she made these films and that information about them is available (if you look very hard) on the net is enough to make her an unsuitable teacher of secondary school age pupils.

 The college was apparently founded by the Jesuits, not known for their liberal attitudes. However the present administration could perhaps do well to reflect on the words of Jesus himself, who said: “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

 We feel that the decision makers of Le Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf have a lot to learn from the brave and talented Jacqueline Laurent and that the main thing their pupils will derive from her removal is that they are witnessing a major lesson in hypocrisy

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

THE SLAVE is out now and getting rave reviews!

"Mondo Macabro's release of Pasquale Festa Campanile's The Slave is easily the best Blu-ray debut from an independent distributor that I have seen in years. Not only is the technical presentation very good, but the film itself is a delicious period gem I am convinced many viewers will fall in love with. Buy with confidence, folks. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."
                                          -  Blu-ray.com

Other reviews:
Mondo Digital