A New Book, Some Changes, and Happy New Year!

January 1, 2018 | By

The cover of Cult Epics Comprehensive Guide to Cult Cinema, hitting bookshelves February 6, 2018.

 

Before I detail Cult Epics Comprehensive Guide to Cult Cinemaa forthcoming book that contains a more than a handful of my reviews from the past 10+ years on exploitation and other genre productions, I’m going to start with a long preamble, so bear with me.

One of the most common misconceptions is that physical media is dead, and everything worthy is already available online through the many major streaming services, but what believers of those stances aren’t aware is that every Tuesday brings forth new movies.

Every. Tuesday.

As it has for decades. I’ve worked in book and video retail, and Tuesdays have been the common date when new product makes its debut, and some of those boxes make it very clear (via brightly coloured stickers) not to sell their contents until that date – because playing fair is a small part of the methodology in building excitement for a title.

That labels exist and continue to put out new material might seem baffling to some, but connoisseurs of classic, current, and ‘lost’ TV series & movies know there’s always some title that never got its due or deserves a proper anniversary edition (as opposed to the perpetually lauded, always in print, remastered yet again title we have in some form or another. Read: Casablanca).

I started out reviewing soundtracks in the early 1990s, then expanded to include home videos & films, and embraced aspects of all three depending on my peculiar tastes and moods. There’s never a shortage of titles to cover because there’s always new stuff, and if it’s a lean week or month, there’s the pile of titles-in-waiting from the busier months that I can draw from.

No title is old in my book because if I’m interested in it now rather than when it emerged 3 months ago, it’s still new to me, and more than a few connoisseurs who may not have been aware of its release.

Back in 2001 I started reviewing videos for Told You So Productions, whose slant was covering the Special Features on discs rather than the movies proper. When the site folded around 2006, I ported over my 500+ reviews and created KQEK.com, the odd-titled site that’s meant to sound like station call letters, but admittedly is not as streamlined as ‘DVD Review’. For good or bad, the name’s permanent, and I’ve no desire to rebrand nor change 2000+ review links in the IMDB.

I actually have no idea how many films I’ve covered, and it doesn’t matter, but like any writer, some of the earlier stuff makes me wince, which is why I’m more than happy to replace an ancient TYSP or KQEK.com review with something meatier.

I still cover films and soundtracks for Rue Morgue magazine, but you may have noticed I’ve cut back on soundtrack reviews at KQEK.com because in plain terms I needed a break. The music hasn’t dropped in quality, the proficiency of composers hasn’t dipped, and the production quality isn’t less than idea.

You could call it a ‘mid-career crisis’ that hits anyone who’s been doing relatively the same thing for a while, and it was especially comforting to hear at Xmas a top film reviewer question his current state after being a critic for 30+ years. He can continue to follow the same path, but is this the only path, and should he stick to it so exclusively?

In regards to soundtracks, I’ve noticed a palpable stance among some critics & publications that Anything Which Doesn’t Sound Like John Carpenter and Goblin and isn’t on vinyl is Irrelevant. A lot of truly outstanding music has been ignored because it’s not on a custom splatter-pattern, 180 gram platter in a gatefold sleeve designed by Whomever, limited to 150 copies. This isn’t a denigration of the fine work being done by indie labels, but there is a wealth of music that exists on CD and LP which goes back to the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s which deserve some love. My storage locker’s packed with many such platters.

So in terms of soundtrack coverage at KQEK.com, I’m going to try something a little different. It’ll take a month or two to get it organized, but maybe there’s a simple way to bridge the gap so vinyl and perfectly fine classic film music get some love evenly.

In terms of film & video coverage, for now it’s status quo in terms of the eclectic mix of titles, but there are a few options I’m weighing for an overhaul later this year.

One possible is to expanded reviews into longer and more exhaustive examinations of a specific genre or filmmaker, and have them published in physical & digital formats – a new venture that’s tied to that mid-career crisis; I like my main gig, but I’d like to have fun with something that’s tangential, if not a little offbeat.

 

I’m in good company.

 

The reviews in the forthcoming tome Cult Epics Comprehensive Guide to Cult Cinema are part of that tangential pathway, if not the first step forward towards new endeavours. I’ve expanded many of the reviews that appeared as part of TYSP and KQEK.com regular coverage of cult movies, and those who know me will no doubt understand why I’m delighted my prose is often supported by graphic, so not safe for work images.

 

Tinto Brass’ The Howl is an amazing work of satire, and perhaps his best before he switched gears and celebrated the bum-bum full time.

 

Cult Epics bigwig and book editor Nico B commissioned the book’s Indiegogo campaign to celebrate the label’s 25 years of releases, and my reviews of the label’s prior titles remain critical takes on select films & rebellious filmmakers (Tinto Brass figures heavily), and tongue-in-cheek examinations of vintage smut spanning soft, hard, and fetish nonsense for adults.

 

Snapshot of the book’s bonus DVD included with the limited Indiegogo edition.

 

The 256 page book is officially released February 6, 2017, and is available for pre-order via Amazon:

If you examine the discography of independent labels, you might see some overlaps as rights pass from one to another, but overall there are gems making their debut every Tuesday, proof physical media isn’t dead, and won’t be dead soon.

The demise of HMV in Canada has been a boon to indie merchants, especially within the downtown Toronto core; a lot of buyers were left stranded back in April, and I’m sure there’s more than one indie video and music shop that can boast a healthy 2017 Xmas season thanks to the ineptitude of a mega-corporation that lost its way with its customers.

Current home video demographics may favour a slightly older collector base, but horror, sexploitation, cult filmmakers, smut, and forgotten gems & lost oddities retain strong followings, and I’ll continue to showcase films within those realms, plus documentaries and whatever oddity catches my eye.

Also expect more tie-ins with my film work at Big Head Amusements. There will be digital and physical release of my doc BSV 1172: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Video Store, plus some other projects. 2018 should be a fun year.

Coming next: reviews of Andre De Toth’s cruelly funny but nihilistic Play Dirty (1968) from Twilight Time on Blu + plus El Condor (1969) on DVD from Warner Archives.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

 

 

Mark R. Hasan, Editor
KQEK.com

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Category: EDITOR'S BLOG

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