Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

300-page history of alternative cinema, presumably based upon Ross' similarly named Channel 4 TV series.

Whether your secret viewing pleasure be such gimmicky oddities as blaxploitation, Kung Fu, Cinerama, Aroma-Rama, Hallucinogenic Hypnovision, cannibal flicks, wide-screen, colour or even 3-D (better keep quiet about that one), Ross has something to say about them all.

He even finds room to enthuse about such wondrous curiosities as 'Emergo' - a sales ploy which featured a physical skeleton being hoisted over the theatrical audience - mid-movie of course - on a fishing line. (well, those nights when it didn't snap anyway)

Ross' love of his low-budget subject is both obvious and unashamed, expressing not just the inherent value that he finds in embracing his inner lowest common denominator, but also his disappointment when people get hurt.

For example, in the opening chapter he details how pivotal 1972's Deep Throat was in changing public attitudes toward porn. However on the subject of its leading lady - Linda Lovelace - he then concedes the following:

"Years later, Lovelace produced a book about her life in films. Called Ordeal, she alleged that her appearance in these movies was entirely involuntary. Her then husband beat her until she agreed to appear, she claimed. Her films, however, are so convincing that the story is a bit hard to believe. Nevertheless, it does make the movie difficult if not impossible to enjoy..." [p. 17]

He's also the only guy I've ever heard defend the work of Ed Wood Jr., investing a couple of chapters in celebrating his imagination and creativity.

"I've always disliked the way this film [Plan 9 From Outer Space] has been held up as an example of 'bad' film-making. Sure, it's shoddy, but I'd much rather sit through an incredibly cheap but incredibly strange movie like this than an expensive, overblown and unforgiveably dull one." [p. 102]

There are only a handful of films detailed in this book that I've ever seen myself, but as I turned the pages I was expecting to come away with a few titles that it might be worth locating copies of.

William Castle's Homicidal sounds like a film that had to be watched twice theatrically to be properly experienced. On the other hand, I think I can live with never seeing The Enema Bandit.

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