Morlock Bonus! Shock Cinema @ 50!

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Shock Cinema turns 50 this year – not half a century, mind you, but 50 issues. I’ve been reading this mag since it was mimeographed on a turtle’s shell — that’s how I remember it, anyway — and let me tell you, boils and ghouls, what a sweet ride it has been. As entertainment journalism degrades ever more steadily into unalloyed product placement, Shock Cinema continues to find worthwhile subjects to interview: folks who have been there and, on more than one occasion, done that. What a record they have left us. What a history. sc71

I remember exactly where I was when Shock Cinema found me: scanning the mag racks at the Tower Video outlet on East 4th Street, looking for something to scratch that itch for something… transformative. And thar she blowed. I no longer remember what issue I started with — it was in the single digits, possibly no. 5, but that’s just bookkeeping. I came to New York in 1986, feeling like I’d missed out on everything good. By the time I connected with Shock Cinema five or six years later most of the graffiti had been scrubbed off, Times Square was being redeveloped as a tourist port-of-call, and the whole damned island was gentrifying faster than you could say Bret Easton Ellis. Reading this mag gave me an instant connection to something vital, forbidden, something whispered about in reverent but hushed tones… and the feeling that I was part of a scene. I read it with pride and twenty-odd years later I still do. I wasn’t yet writing about movies when I found that first issue, and had to the best of my recollection no desire to — I was just a fan, I was an enthusiast, I was a satellite dish hungry for intelligence. Shock Cinema gave me that, in spades, along with career-spanning interviews with such cult titans as — where to begin? — Robert Forster, Don Gordon, Luke Askew, Nancy Allen, James Remar, Fred Ward, Bo Svensen, Steve Railsback, Bruce Davison, M. Emmet Walsh, Jon Finch, Judy Pace, Nigel Davenport, Bo Hopkins, Alex Cord,  Angel Tomkins, Powers Booth, William Forsythe, and so many more. Sadly, too many of these great actors have since passed away; sadder still is that their sitdown with Shock Cinema was  far too often the only attention they were getting in their later years. Happily, I got to contribute to the SC Hall of Fame when I did an interview in 2001 with my late friend, Victor Argo.

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Shock Cinemas declaration  of principles — if they even have such a thing — surely reads “Talk to somebody who knows and you will always get a good story.” The stories in this latest issue are, as expected, wonderful and amusing and informative. I remember the memorial service we had for Vic Argo back in April 2004, at the West Bank Cafe on 42nd Street; the place was swarming with New York actors who had stopped by to pay their respects and as I was going out Paul Calderon was coming in. It was great to read his interview by Andrew J. Rausch and greater still that he name-checks Vic among his memories of helping to write THE BAD LIEUTENANT (1992). Calderon also talks about his humble beginnings as an actor (his first film was Roberta Findlay’s gnarly killfest TENEMENT) and the whole tale about how he nearly had the Sam Jackson role in PULP FICTION (1994). In conversation with Mike Sullivan, Pepe Serna speaks of being a studio contract player in the dying days of old Hollywood and how his career was aided by early contact with legendary director Henry Hathaway — and also about making THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (1984), of course. And as for Saul Rubinek, he’s one of those guys whose life before he became famous is even more fascinating and compelling than his roles in such films as AGAINST ALL ODDS (1984), WALL STREET (1987), UNFORGIVEN (1992), and TRUE ROMANCE (1993). In a chat with Anthony Petrovich we learn how the son of Holocaust survivors pingponged back and forth between Canada and Europe for several years, paying his rent by busking and street performing, before returning to Canada and immersing himself in “hippie theatre” and early work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (Great to learn, too, that he had a long-standing relationship with Kate Lynch, whom we all know from MEATBALLS and DEFCON 4.) And of course he tells great stories about making all of the above movies — and also DEATH SHIP (1980), which he says all involved referred to during production as DEATH SHIT; – I only wish he had gotten to talk about one of my personal favorites, SWEET LIBERTY (1986). I haven’t yet tucked into the Stuart Margolin interview — I’m saving that for last — and there’s a conversation as well with veteran character actor Richard Riehle. And reviews. Such reviews!

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Jean-Paul Belmondo in the gritty French policier/psychothriller PEUR SUR LA VILLE/FEAR OVER THE CITY (1975), Terence Stamp in the time-tripping headscrew HU-MAN (1975), Dee Wallace in the 1977 come-to-Jesus drama ALL THE KING’S HORSES, and Michel Constantin as a master criminal planning to rob an entire town with a cadre of specialty henchmen in the Frenchified Donald Westlake adaptation MISE A SAC/PILLAGED/MIDNIGHT RAID, 1967), plus the Dream Team of John Heard, Levon Helm, Stephen McHattie, John-Rhys Davies, and Michael Ironside in BEST REVENGE (1984), a tale of drug smuggling and international mischegos. And so much more — and I’m talking THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAFFIC JAM (1980) more!

Irreverent and essential, Shock Cinema No. 50 should be hitting your newsstands even as we speak. Go pick up your copy today.

2 Responses Morlock Bonus! Shock Cinema @ 50!
Posted By cicero grimes : June 2, 2016 4:44 pm

The wait between issues of this quarterly always feels like a year,but when it arrives in my mailbox,does it ever DELIVER. This is the ONLY publication in which I read and savor every word.The respect shown to the shamefully obscure interview subjects should be a publishing industry standard,but don’t hold your breath.
SHOCK has carved out a niche,and they OWN IT.
One last thought,not only does they do it for $5.00,but the mailing envelope almost always arrives hand-stamped with uncancelled stamps!

Posted By swac44 : June 5, 2016 2:10 pm

Peur Sur la Ville and Mise a Sac have been on my most-wanted list for quite some time, have they actually surfaced or did SHOCK have special access to a screening or collector’s copy?

Sadly, I was charged with finding a copy of Mise a Sac by Westlake booster Darwyn Cooke, the Canadian artist who created graphic novel versions of a number of his Parker stories (also adapted by John Boorman for the movie Point Blank). Darwyn passed away just over a month ago, and I never did come across a copy for him. At least there’s some comfort in knowing that somebody out there has seen it recently.

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