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Weng’s Chop #4.5 (magazine review)

One would say, that when you have numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, normally you would expect number 5 to follow, right? Well, good-hearted folks producing your favourite cinema megazine Weng’s Chop think differently and back in the day have brought us issue #4.5, which in time had evolved into an annual Spooktacular issue. Nice, isn’t it?

Well, yeah, but… just in case you think I will only heap praise here – with this annual issue guys have introduced yet another layout format. And my obsession with collecting stuff neatly on the shelf just got another blow. How the hell am I supposed to get three different formats nicely aligned? Apparently, I am not supposed to. OK, I can live with that (barely), but it’s only fair to mention that. So, guys, no more layout size changes…please!

So, what do we have here? First, as it’s expected (and appreciated), we have editorials, and I really like to read good ones. No point saying that when it comes to Weng’s Chop, I start with these straight away.

José Ramón Larraz

As old generation of filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts slowly fades away, we have to expect more and more deaths of our beloved icons. One of these was José Ramón Larraz, who left us in 2013 and to whom is dedicated a lengthy piece by Brian Harris and others (pages 3 – 15). Although I am not sure if I have seen any of his movies, I love to read about them and finding stuff of interest. Obviously, if you don’t know about them, you can’t want to see them! Elementary, dear Rudolf!

Time to brag – it was because of this issue of WCH I’ve got myself a nice paperback copy of Xerox Ferox! And it was just because there is this nice little interview with John Walter Szpunar, the autor of said tome (and a tome it indeed is!). By the way, in case you wonder, Xerox Ferox is a book about movie fanzines. No wonder I’ve been sold the second I’d read about it. And the book itself is fantastic (and I am making a mental note to re-read it soon).

Xerox Ferox book cover

Page 24 and Brian in his infinite hustlin’ wisdom opens for us the possibilities of getting more sweets on Halloween. An apparent page filler, but I have to admit I did laugh about thinking about how it works…and apparently, this stuff works. All hail Halloween candy diabetes!

And because Brian is quite a prolific writer, pages 26-28 contains his take on Christian propaganda in the form of documentaries Pagan Invasion: Halloween, Trick or Treat – Part One, and Hell House. Now, let’s stop for a second. I have to admit I am Christian and that’s it. But I have to agree with Brian here (and many others) that some allegedly pro-Christian propaganda is really one sided brainwashing. Have no problem with Halloween being originally a pagan holiday (morphed into Catholic All Saint’s Day) and what have you, but the moment people start talking – in usual good ole “Satanic Panic” mode – about hidden messages in music (yeah, right, I need to get a special turntable, a specific records and then I can hear satanic message? Well, any Satanic black metal album would suffice, I guess, and I don’t need to play it backwards!), the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons (I mean, really!) and the like, I am really furious. But OK, some people like it, leave it to them.

As with other Christploitation movies reviewed in WCH, I have to say I’ve tried to watch some of them – and I failed. Although I’m not gonna complain, because pages 30-32 bring us to what ammounts basically to a list of 200 (!!!!) movies contained in the Drive-In Cult Classic Collection boxset. Man, I still don’t have that one!!!! I need it badly!!!

And if you don’t have enough, pages 33-35 bring another list of another big fucking list of movies in another big fucking boxset! Tales of Terror from those nice folks in Mill Creek Entertainment is another stuff you need. Imagine, 200 movies – that’s almost a year (and in my case, more than year) of viewing!

Page 38 starts a nice lengthy article titled “My First Time” and because this is not a magazine for teenager battling with puberty and hormones, we’re not dealing with first sex here, but, as you should guess without any hesitation, the first horror movies contributing authors have seen. And from page 38 to page 52 you’ll find some nice suggestions of movies, just in case you haven’t seen them yet.

Pages 54-56, this is the place for Mose Allison’s article “Getting the Fear: Sowing the seeds of Darkness”, in which the author contemplates over the childhood, fear and Halloween. Nice reading.

Pages 58-60 are dedicated to the review of two nice documentaries about two iconic horror movies (or movie franchises, if you will) – The Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, namely “Never Sleep Again” and “Crystal Lake Memories”. I remember watching the former one and I really liked it. And as the article mentions, it’s a really long one.

I haven’t seen “Crystal Lake Memories”, but then – shock and horror! – I was and am not that much of Jason fan (I am Freddy’s fan through and through). But again, in case you haven’t seen those docus, have a read to see if they are worth of getting. Because, as you know, every dollar counts, so make sure you’re getting its worth.

“The Boy from Out of this World: Documentary Filmmaker wows the secret behind Teenagers From Outer Space” is the article by Greg Goodsell and it’s an interesting stuff about the director of this sci-fi schlock from 1950s. Certainly not something you would read about often, so a thumb up for that.

Larry Conti brings his take on Television Tao: TVB’s Classic Supernatural Swordplay Series of the 80’s, reviewing in length movies The Dragon Sword and The Fearless Duo. That’s pages 66-71 for those counting the pages.

Phillip Escott talks about movies Livid and Tall Man in the article “Sophomore Blues: Following a Classic”. Funny thing, I am in total reverse, I haven’t liked Livid that much, but I liked Tall Man. And both Phillip’s and mine opinions are OK. That’s the beauty in the eye of the beholder.

Steve’s Video Store articles by Steven Ronquillo are always a treat to read, and there is no change in this statement here. On pages 76-78 you’ll find quite a lot of movie recommendations for your Halloween viewing (I’ve seen a few of those, but boy, do I have to step up my watching game!).

Steve Fenton contributes a nice and – at least for me – interesting article about TV horror host Count Zappula, and I lament the state of things, as this is something I haven’t experienced – never. What fun would it be to have something like this in our TV back then when I was a kid. Well, as Rolling Stones put it: “You can’t always get what you want”. Along with the main article there are a bunch of long reviews for movies From Hell It Came, She Demons, Blood of Dracula, Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow, The Haunted House of Horror, Asylum of Satan, Pharaoh’s Curse and Hand of Death.

And as the theme is Halloween, another article on pages 100-101 brings us, the readers, to Danae Dunning’s triple reviews of Trick or Treat, House of Psychotic Women and La Residencia.

And as for reviews, we’re not done yet here, pages 102-106 contains various smaller reviews by your usual contributors.

108-123…these pages are firmly reserved for another installments of Tim Paxton’s Indian cinema series. Oh, my…this is absolutely fascinating read and if you are only a remote movie fan, you will find Tim’s narrative here totally captivating. Yes, I want to see those movies too!!! I am really in a loss of words to express my great joy of reading such stuff. To call it excellent doesn’t really do it justice, it’s beyond excellent!

The last segment of this great WCH Spooktacular 2013 is dedicated to printed publications (books and some graphic novels) and that’s spot on! Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Films? Re/Search’s Incredibly Strange Films? Joe Bob goes to Drive-In? Can’t go wrong here! Tell you what, I’ve bought Joe Bob Briggs’ book just because I’ve read about it here! What a recommendation, huh?

Summed up, sealed, signed and delivered – if you are still not buying those issues as a hot cross buns the moment the new one is released, there is no hope of movie-geek redemption for you. But if you – up to now – hesitated whethere to buy this one or not, now you know. Get that moolah rollin’!

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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