A look at Cultographies: Ms. 45 by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (2017)

I “met” Alexandra through her writing a couple of year back when I read one of her previous books, Rape Revenge Films: A Critical Study. To me, just that title alone is a home run but when I was about half way through I knew I was reading words from my “new” favorite film writer. While the book has that scholarly air about it, Alexandra shows she is a down to earth film fan first and writes so that dumb shulbs like me can understand. I found out about a couple of films she wrote about in a positive fashion and picked them up.

I later learned from her at the time, that she was working on two future books, both single film specific. One was about Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) and the next, the one I was most interested in, Abel Ferrara’s 1981 Classic Ms. 45. Little that I knew it was going to be a bit for it to be released. The countdown began at that moment…

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^ Contents page…

Last week, the book arrived in my mailbox and I fast tracked it to the top of the pile. I was first surprised at the small size of the book and then realized it was perfect. Sized like a classic paperback you would find on the racks of seedy magazine shops (like Seven Star News in the city of Linden, New Jersey where I grew up), the subject material fits it like a glove. In a historical fashion, Alexandra breaks down the making/creation of the film, from it’s beginnings to the finished product hitting the screens.

She is a researcher who likes details and doesn’t skimp on them. While Alexandra doesn’t have a direct interview with any of the particulars, there are many referenced quotes from all who were involved with the proceedings. There is a big focus on Zoe Lund, from the acting in Ms. 45, her writings & collaborations with Abel on other productions, such as Bad Lieutenant (1992). Small details do not get unnoticed, it seems for one big scene in the film, Ferrara hired for day work, people hanging out in the Revolutionary Communist Party Bookstore on 18th Street/NYC, as his studios were upstairs. Weird, I was at that place a few times in the 80’s, who knew such greatness was up above! There is also words written about the recent “uncut” DVD release by Drafthouse Films. While I knew there were many versions of Ms. 45, I wasn’t aware that it was never released in full until 2013. Crazy.

Overall, as with much of her previous work, Alexandra writes for the “common folk” when it comes to film critique. I would say about 15% of the book would be considered psycho babble but the rest is hardcore film criticism and looking into the film’s production, the screenings and reactions afterward. Ms. 45, when you look at it at face value, is not an easy film to fully understand and everybody comes away from it differently. Even though I have seen the film a few times over the years, this book illuminated somethings I missed (again, I’m a dumb shulb, don’t sue me…). If you are like me and enjoy reading about movies, Cultographies: Ms. 45 is a sure pick-up.

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Find the book and Alexandra on the Web here:

https://www.amazon.com/Ms-45-Cultographies-Alexandra-Heller-Nicholas/dp/0231179855

http://www.thebluelenses.com/

https://twitter.com/suspirialex

REVIEW: TAMPA BAY SCREAMS 2016 Convention

I recently attended a new convention which was a celebration of independent horror film and a showcase for local Tampa Bay talent and film companies. Top shelf stuff, period.

 

There have been more videos produced from the show:

Eight the Chosen One…

 

Jesse posted a couple:

 

and Shelby’s Daily Grindhouse:

 

there was more….probably will be another post. -Dave K.

EXAFM 2016: The PRINT edition/PDF Version for download!!

If you follow this blog, you know I was doing a film event for extreme Asian films in the month of July. The end result was to be a printed fanzine with all of the reviews that were written in it. I have completed that phase of it. There will be few printed by me, mostly for the contributors and for conventions that I will be attending this month. You can download the PDF for free and print as many as you want (or just read it on screen…). Please spread the link around so all can see it! Download it today!

Hara Kiri Extreme Asian Films one shot 2016 PDF

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Southern Fried Game Room Convention Atlanta June 10th-12th 2016

A couple of years ago, a group of folks started up a arcade video game/pinball convention here in Atlanta, which I attended. Loved it but missed last year’s show. I was determined to get my hands on some of my favorite pinball machines again, even if it was a for a brief moment. This year’s show was larger and much more varied that the previous one I was at. My heart is in pinball, so while they had classic video games (consoles and arcade) and board gaming, I only was there to play the silverball. Since a convention like this is dependent on people to actually bring their personal machines to it, each time it will vary with the amount and quality of the machines. Your heart sinks when you go to play a particular machine and it’s been turned off due to a wide variety of issues. You always have to remember many of these machines are 30 years old and have been hammered with use. I did get to play my 2nd favorite pinball of all time, Mata Hari, which surprisingly they had two! They tried to group together machines by era and did a great job of it. Having beautiful machines such as Space Invaders, Fathom and Centaur right next to each other would have probably never happened in 1981, but in this “fantasy” arcade they can.

I never take these shows for granted as they are truly interactive and keep your interest. Sadly for me though, I only last a couple of hours after I have had my fill and the crowds start to get bigger. Plus I really have little interest in the over done newer machines and the all video pinball. There are a lot of folks into this and I’m glad the appreciation for the old pinball machines is growing. It’s an expensive hobby, one I cannot afford, so the once a year I can go down and jam on some these…I am grateful. Go to the site here: Southern Fried Gameroom Expo for more info.

See all the photos I took here: My photos of the SFGE 2016!