BOOK REVIEW: The Hitcher by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (2018)

The Hitcher by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Published by Arrow Books 100 pgs. 2018

Don’t pick up hitchhikers…EVER.

Late in 2017, when this book by film critic and writer, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, was announced by Arrow, most of the film (mostly uptight) nerds around the “internet” were posting their disappointment. Why? Because it was a “book” and not a Bluray of THE HITCHER. I, myself, was all giddy with anticipation since it was a new book by one of my favorite film writers of all time!

I personally have only seen THE HITCHER from 1986 once and that was in the VHS days. I do own the DVD of it and it is more than likely it will not see a BluRay release unless HBO puts it out as they hold the rights to it (and I am sure there is more to it than that). So in cases like these, I look to people like Alex to throw down some knowledge to make me understand why a film like this is important to see.

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In her personal style, the “book” is assembled much like the last I read of hers, the one on Able Ferrara’s 1981 film, Ms. 45. It opens with pre-production on the film and references to older films, in this case, ones that deal with hitchhiking as a plot device. The middle section is her breakdown and observations on themes of THE HITCHER, going deep on the character’s motivations. The 3rd part deals with the film’s completion, the theatrical/critical response, the sequel and remake and other notes. The book also has stills and posters from the film, blown up to fill the page. I have read many articles on the film over the years and the writer of this book brings out tidbits I never heard before.

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas has put together a very well researched book. It doesn’t talk down to you like some film books. She drops the paragraphs easy to read but giving you plenty to consider about this film. It’s also kept clean with no footnotes (the references are in the back pages for further perusal) and Arrow did a nice concise layout. It’s a small book, yes, but books like these are important and I’m glad Arrow gave it a shot. Alex’s writing is a force to be reckoned with and I look forward to the next tome with her name on it!

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ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT Fanzine #3 is now taking submissions! The CAT III issue!

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It’s time to start writing for issue 3 of ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT! It is our first themed issue…CAT III Cinema! We are looking for the bulk of this issue to be CAT III (Category III in Hong Kong is 18 and up) films of Hong Kong OR films from other Asian countries that can be considered CAT III. Looking for reviews/essays on the most depraved, smutty, violent, dirty, sleazy films you can come up with. There are plenty of films to be considered, so start writing! Any questions ask! Any reviews received during this time that do not fit the theme, will definitely go into the November 2018 issue! We here at Asian Cinema Takeout are looking forward to your submissions…all writers will get the issue in paper form for sure!

ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT is half sized (5.5″ x 8.5″) and is 20 pages each issue. The idea is to knock these out fast. The third issue will be out in late September 2018!

Thematically, we cover films of all eras from the Asian film world, but only ones with a darker theme. Cult, Exploitation, Action, Horror, Smut, etc… you get the idea. While we will graciously accept long form articles/reviews, ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT mostly consists of shorter, paragraph length reviews with many photos and poster art work. Whatever we cannot fit in one issue, will go on to the next. All writings can be old or new. If you have things on an old dead blog, send it, give it new life.

So contact me at: Grandnagus69@yahoo.com for any more info. (Send all submissions with Asian Cinema Takeout in the subject line)

Join the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1805935712756721

Hope to see your work in the upcoming issue!

Check out the first issue here:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/b759zlhkg71578o/asian_cinema_takeout_issue_1_march_2018.pdf

Check out the 2nd issue here:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/3vqqpzq33tf9c8a/ACT_2_for_web.pdf

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ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT issue #2 May 2018 is out! DOWNLOAD it FREE!

It’s here as promised! ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT #2!

ASIAN CINEMA TAKEOUT covers the darker side of Asian Cinema and this issue has plenty of short film reviews for you to pursue…

The ‘zine itself is 20 pages 5.5 x 8.5 inches and in B & W.

You can download it two different ways for FREE:

The read on screen version (PDF) is here:

Asian Cinema Takeout #2 pdf

You can also download the odd and even pages to make your own print copy here:

odd numbered pages ACT issue 2

even numbered pages ACT issue 2

If you wish to contribute to future issues, e-mail me at Grandnagus69@yahoo.com with “Asian Cinema Takeout” in the subject line. All contributors get a print copy of the ‘zine.

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP HERE! Asian Cinema Takeout Facebook Group!act issue 2 cover

FIENDISH one-shot August 2017 is now available for download!! 8/27/17

It’s the moment you have all been waiting for (or not)! The FIENDISH horror/cult/exploitation one shot fanzine is now available for download. It’s 92 pages of some great content from writers all over.

You have two ways to download FIENDISH (it’s free!):

The print version is in two parts. One file is for the odd pages (cover side) and the other file is the even pages. Download both and you can print your own copy (or copies to give out to others). This is a free fanzine, so while you are free to print as many as your want, don’t sell it. The files for this version are here:

FIENDISH_one_shot_2017_odd_pages_TO_PRINT

FIENDISH_one_shot_2017_even_pages_TO_PRINT

The web/screen version is here. This version is the individual pages, so it can be read on screen up/down or side to side. At a 121 mb, a bit of a beast but it was as small as I could get it without sacrificing quality.

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Hope you like and tell others to get it. A few months of work went into this and I feel the results are there.

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FIENDISH PICKINGS WEEKLY #2 4/9/17

articles

Blood and Beauties – An Interview with Death-Scort Service Part 2: The Naked Dead Director Sean Donohue

The beginner’s guide to Italian exploitation cinema by Den Of Geek (contributed by Mando Ayala)

The films of Radley Metzger

6 Reasons Why “Kagemusha” Is Akira Kurosawa’s Late Masterpiece by Panos Kotzathanasis

CGs Film Reviews

From a House on Willow Street (2016) yeah this was not a good film. There are some great practical effects and creature design but its mixed with laughable CGI effects and characters that are so paper thin and just plain stupid.

The films starts out introducing our characters and their backstories just so they can then be used against them later on. The first half of the film is mainly characters walking around in the dark followed by jump scares. We then get an exposition dump that slows the film to a crawl followed by a third act that ramps up the action and gore.

The last act is where the film is at its best but the characters are so underdeveloped and uninteresting that it just didn’t grab me. I could see some people really enjoying this but not me. 2.5/5 stars.

Galaxy of Horrors 1h 45min | Horror, Sci-Fi | 2017 (Amazon VOD)

A horror/scifi anthology that reminded me of the film released last year called Patient Seven which was created by grabbing international shorts and creating a wrap around story to loosely tie them all together. As with any anthology you will always have a mixed bag with some shorts being strong, some being okay and some being terrible. Here’s the breakdown:

Eden – 2.5/5, IRIS – 4/5, Pathos – 3/5, Flesh Computer – 2/5, Eveless – 1/5, They Will All Die in Space – 4/5, Entity – 3.5/5, Kings – 3/5, Wrap Around Story – 1/5

There are some really strong highs and some really low lows. So overall I had a fun time but each story is very different from each other. 3.5/5 stars.

Quarries 1h 23min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 2017 (Amazon VOD)

This has to be one of the most generic backwoods horror films I’ve ever seen. Our group of women are all one note cliches and our villains are the most boring cookie cutter redneck family.

Everything just happens in the most boring way possible as there is no build of suspense and our so called threat is dispatched with relative ease. It doesn’t get more middle of the road than this. 2/5 stars.
Alleluia (film) 1h 33min | Crime, Horror, Romance | 12 November 2014 (Belgium)
A very disturbed woman goes on a date with a man who she discovers is a scam artist and has issues of his own. She quickly becomes obsessed and it all spirals out of control from there. Based on a true story this is a very dark and gritty film that has a very 1970s feel. 3.5/5 stars.

A Room to Die For 18A | 1h 24min | Horror, Thriller | 2017 (Amazon VOD)

This is a pretty terrible film. We then are given flashes of whats to come within the first 5 mins so this undercuts any suspense of what may happen. The performances are not good all around.

The young couple are pretty unlikable right from the start especially the boyfriend and the older couple are so uninteresting so we can’t engage with them either. What happens in the film is supposed to generate some kind of emotion but all I felt was sorry for the actors involved in this film.
Avoid! 1/5 stars.

videos

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – Arrow Video Limited Edition Blu-Ray Set Unboxing! by deadbydawn93

DEATH-SCORT SERVICE PART 2: THE NAKED DEAD (2017) teaser trailer

Amy Heckerling’s Criterion Closet Picks

So’s Film Diaries #1 | TAKE ME INTO THE MATRIX | FILM VLOG by So’s Reel Thoughts

AllScreamingEye: The Greasy Strangler review by Gore Hounds

podcasts

Zach’s Ceremony, Ghost in the Shell and A Man Called Ove on Plato’s Cave – 03 April 2017

Dark Discussions Podcast Episode 278 – The Belko Experiment

THE LAST KNOCK presents: THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (2017)

POST MORTEM WITH MICK GARRIS with Walter Hill 3/29/17

sponsors

Gore Noir Magazine

Grindhouse Video Tampa

Cavity Colors

ASIAN FILM MONTH April 1st-30th 2017

Well, it is going to be a theme month once again in The Magnificent World of Dave K. As I attempt to watch 365 films this year (most of which that I have never seen before), in the month of April 2017, I will be viewing only Asian films of various genres, concentrating on more sleaze and exploitation this time out. Daily, I should be doing a round up of other links and reviews that catch my eye plus the films that some of my film buddies see. It’s pretty loose this time out, just let me know if you do a review, a video or just mention a film you have seen. Now a small round of film posters I gathered…

Follow me on Twitter: @AFiendOnFilm

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