"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" by Mike Smith
First a Word About My House .... Happy 500th Issue Nolan! ... The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region- Part 11 by William Moriaty
Welcome Back to the Grindhouse by ED Tucker
|GROWING UP FANBOY|
Special Edition: Spooky Empire 2009 by Chris Woods
The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #20-17 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro
|THE ASIAN APERTURE|
J-Horror: Special Halloween Edition by Jason Fetters
|STATE OF THE NATION|
The Great Fox Distraction From The Real War .... Now We Have Maoists .... 1500?!?! .... Up In The Sky...it's A Giant Muffin .... .... .... .... by Brandon Jones
Happy 500th!!!!! .... New England Patriots In London Vs. The Bucs .... It's The Yankees Vs. The Phillies .... .... .... .... .... by Chris Munger
Brody .... Passing On .... Introducing The A-team .... Happy 500! .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2 by Mike Smith
|Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review|
From the mid 70’s through the late 80’s, a cultural phenomenon sprang up in heavily populated urban areas. Theaters, many of which dated back before motion pictures to the days of burlesque, began to specialize in showing exploitation films that their main stream competition avoided. These sleaze cinemas were dubbed “grindhouses” in a nod to their strip show origins and also in reference to the quality of the film prints they ended up with that often looked as though they had been through a meat grinder. While they were popular with fans of offbeat movies and profitable due to the low overhead inherent in their less than desirable and often ill-maintained locations, the advent of home video spelled doom for the grindhouse.
In the more rural areas of the southern states, grindhouses were almost unheard of. In there place, we had the drive-in theaters which were also declining in popularity thanks to the color television boom of the 60’s. Like the grindhouses, many drive-ins tried to cater to a niche their four walled and broadcast competitors were quick to dismiss. Drive-in theaters were also known for multi-bill shows that sometimes lasted from dusk until dawn and could feature as many as five different films. I was fortunate enough to catch the very tail end of the drive-ins’ reign in the late 80’s and early 90’s but, even though I scrambled for anything I could find, I only had a handful of opportunities to appreciate this type of cinema in its original incarnation.
For St. Augustine, Florida resident Brandon Merkley, grindhouses were just fabled legends to read about in magazines. The 24 year old recent college graduate’s only first hand experience with exploitation films were the ones he rented and regularly watched on VHS tape as he was growing up. From a young age, he was hooked on films many of his peers had not even heard of. As Brandon recalls, “the first exploitation film I ever remember seeing was I Spit on Your Grave, when I was in the fifth grade. Don’t ask me how, but somehow a friend and I managed to rent a copy of it. This was in Kentucky so I suppose the video store just didn’t care. I don’t remember our exact reactions at the time, but I still love that film to this day.”
CULTure Shock Production's Brandon Merkley prepares for another grindhouse screening.
Travis Johnson and owner Kenny Pierce get ready for the evening rush at Pot Belly's Cinema.
The home made poster for the Spainish chainsaw movie Pieces.
I attended a screening of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie on a Friday evening with a very responsive audience. To warm up the audience, Brandon showed a 16mm reel of previews, theater spots, and even a Pink Panther cartoon. The 35mm feature print that followed was in surprisingly good shape although the color had shifted toward the red side. This was an uncut print with all the unrated gore in tact and it was clear from the audiences’ reactions that many of them had not seen the film before. Seeing the over the top violence on the big screen, for the first time in many years, reminded me of how far special effects have come in the last three decades but the sheer visceral impact of the film has not been diminished by time.
Brandon Merkley and ED Tucker talk cult movies outside Pot Belly's Cinema in St. Augustine.
CULTure Shock Productions has an impressive and diverse schedule planned for the last two months of 2009 as well as few surprises brewing for next year. On November 6th and 7th, they will show David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, followed by John Water’s cult classic Pink Flamingos on November 20th, 21st, and 22nd. In December, they will have another Lynch film, Blue Velvet, on the 4th and 5th and then close out the year with William Lustig’s Vigilante on December 18th and 19th. For anyone like me who missed it entirely or those longing to return to the grindhouse again, this film series is highly recommended. It is the closest you can come to recreating the grindhouse experience without the police sirens and rats!