My introduction to Ben Wheatley was Sightseers, a film based on characters so hilariously loathsome I wasn’t even sure I actually liked the movie until days later. That’s when I knew that Wheatley, who already had two other features under his belt (Down Terrace, Kill List), was destined for greatness.
Wheatley has only directed three films since then—A Field In England, High-Rise, and Free Fire—and is still working, so he might seem an odd subject for a career retrospective. This is something that film critic Adam Nayman acknowledges in his new book Ben Wheatley: Confusion and Carnage. It’s a clever bit of self-deprecation that puts the reader at ease.
By Tim Murr
Fernando is a drug dealer from Mexico living in Austin, Texas. He works for a man named Guillermo and is doing all right for himself since crossing “la frontera.” Then one night he’s attacked, shoved into a trunk, and presented to a man named Indio. Indio isn’t the kind of man you usually find in Austin; a large, powerfully built monster, covered in so many tattoos that his skin is almost black. He wants to take over much of Guillermo’s territory and wants Fernando to deliver a message. Part of that message involves having to watch the torture and murder of his colleague Nestor. So begins Zero Saints, a fearful, fast-paced descent into what may be the final few days of un hombre invisible.
I have had the pleasure, nay, honor of being able to review the book Hunting Witches by our very own Jeffery X Martin. This “non-vel”, as he calls it, took many months of work, blood, sweat, and alcohol to construct, and it is more than worth the wait since the last installment of the happenings in Elders Keep. The Elders Keep anthology began as a series of short stories, released individually on Amazon, and can now be acquired in the form of Black Friday, which includes the stories that started it all: “Be Sweet,” “Mouth,” and “Candy.” “Mouth” personally had me cringing, which is not easily accomplished from words on a screen or paper. You can bet, I will be giving that book another read just to fit everything together again.
I like the idea of collecting the musing and essays from individual Arrow releases into a single bound book. In theory, that is. In reality, if I’m interested in reading analysis on a specific film, like Dressed to Kill, wouldn’t I already have that Blu-ray in my collection?
There’s a chance the answer to that tug of war will color the amount of value you’re able to find in Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion. I flip-flopped on this as I meandered through its pages. When faced with a piece on Zombie Flesh Eaters I struggled to muddle through. Perhaps a mix of topic and writing style, I just couldn’t commit to paragraph after paragraph on a movie I didn’t have much interest in, and that was my reaction to the majority of this book.
Many people believe that horror fiction begins and ends with Stephen King. It’s easy to see why. King has sold 900 gabillion books, and they keep coming out. The man could publish a phone number scribbled on the back of a receipt and the New York Times would drool all over it.
That’s fine, but that means that a lot of readers aren’t taking full advantage of their resources. There are a plethora of small presses publishing quality horror. Self-published authors are also creating some fantastic work. It’s not all dinosaur erotica and woodworking books.
Nineteen pages into Ray Wylie Hubbard’s book, A LIfe… Well, Lived. I had teared up, laughed hard enough to snort, and planned on buying his back catalogue of music (which is extensive). Hubbard is a natural raconteur, and his memoir is loaded with witty, honest, closely observed stories that span his lifetime. A Life… Well, Lived is written in an non-linear fashion: there are straight-up autobiographical chapters, stream of consciousness stories written with a lack of respect for the constraints of “proper” punctuation and capitalization, plus his filmic song lyrics. Hubbard has a literate, biting style of writing, and it is incredibly enjoyable. Buckle up, it’s a hell of a ride.
By Tim Murr
TwoMorrows Publishing is awesome. These dedicated fans began publishing magazines about comics in the mid-’90s, such as the authoritative series Jack Kirby Collector as well as Comic Book Artist and Alter Ego. They have also published books and DVDs, further preserving the far reaches of comics’ history.
The world of rock music (and music journalism) is one big boys club. And it’s no surprise that the title of Kim Gordon’s memoir, Girl in a Band, is partly in reference to the incessant query “What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” Despite possessing two X chromosomes, Gordon adeptly chiseled her own space in music with her own rules, coupled with intelligence and dignity. As far as her emotions, she has historically played her cards close to her chest, even appearing aloof, but when she performed “Aneurysm” at Nirvana’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my body tingled and I was momentarily slack jawed. I don’t care what anyone else says about it, and opinions vary wildly, but Gordon’s performance was one of the most visceral, authentic, fearless, perhaps cathartic, but certainly intense moments I’ve ever witnessed in rock ‘n roll.
A Christmas Story seems like one of those films that was always part of our cultural heritage. Every Christmas, TBS broadcasts it in a 24-hour loop, phrases like “you’ll shoot your eye out” have entered the lexicon, and tchotchkes like the infamous leg lamp sell in large quantities online. Because of the film’s ubiquity, viewers can take for granted what went into getting it made. Writer Caseen Gaines (with the assistance of Jean Shepherd scholar Eugene P. Bergman and actor Wil Wheaton) lifts the curtain on the making of this beloved feature with the book A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic.
By J Howell
Gary Lucas duly notes early on in Touched By Grace that the book is neither a biography of Jeff Buckley nor Lucas himself. It is, however, a remarkable peek from Lucas’s perspective of a brief, tumultuous period in the author’s life, a time of promise and disappointment on a scale that seems overwhelming in retrospect. While the gravitas of the situation may not be readily apparent to non- (or even casual) fans of Buckley or Lucas, considering the lasting impact Grace has made on so many lives, Touched By Grace is an inside look at, frankly, kind of a big deal. Or at least a really big part of a big deal.