My quest to review the best underground cinema-related magazine made me realize I have missed so many great movies. And I forgot others I did want to watch, but for some reason I haven’t. Yeah, that’s the beauty (and probably the price as well) for our hectic lives today (at least for many of us).
Anyway, if you follow my reviews with your own copy of WCH, either shaking your head in agreement or thinking “WTF is he thinking?”, good. If not, shame on you. OK, maybe not, but you certainly miss some good reading.
That’s being said, we’re back with the review for issue number 4. Oh my, are we bulkin’ up here, aren’t we? Well, going from inaugural #0 with 52 small pages to the present behemot with 217 long pages, you know the good folks behind WCH magazine care for your intake of culture-related information.
And, to say the least, this issue is probably the most diverse to-date (easy to say, when taking into account the pagecount, but still…).
OK, so what we have here – My copy came with the cover variant B. That should tell you there are other 2 variants, but I this one I liked the most. But I’m glad they stopped doing cover variants, it’s just distracting and honestly, spending time to prepare something which doesn’t bring at much value compared to time spent. #Mytwocents here.
Originally I wanted to talk about new collaborators here, but I guess I’ll spare some words about them when we’ll get to the articles themselves, so without further ado, let’s delve to this issue’s content.
After the editorials on page 2 we are greeted with solemn stuff. In 2013 we lost another great movie icon, the stop-motion effects master Ray Harryhausen. Pages 3-6 are dedicated to recollection of many film lovers about their love for Ray and his creations. I think it’s great to leave behind such a legacy, such a wealth of cinematic experiences to indulge, to share and profess our love for.
The topic continues on the page 7 with the article by Vicky Love about Harryhausen, Bradbury and their impact on her film/book loving journey.
If you ever wonder why I skip some pages, it’s because they contain full page illustrations or image introduction to next segment of the zine. That’s why we’re jumping to page 10 and we are greeted with absolutely fantastic article by Jared Auner and Timo Raita about the Finnish move The Witch.
Jared Auner I know (now) as a collaborator for Mondo Macabro, the well known and well respected film connossieur DVD/Blu Ray label for all cinema lovers (which reminds me of always-lamented-by-me state of postage rates from the good ole US to Europe, effectively barring me from getting more MM releases, but that’s life), and Timo Raita is somewhat a mystery man, but with cinema tastes like this one, you can bet he knows his stuff.
Anyway, this article is pretty long (8 long pages) and mind-blowing, as it presents stuff I haven’t been prepared for back in 2013. You know, I was more into mindless actioners, horror flicks and other B-movie stuff, so this presented quite a challenge, it’s totally different level and I still need to watch this movie.
Larry Cohen and his cinematic output is a focus of the article by Karl Kafer, a seasoned exploitation movie fan with the love of 70’s stuff. And if you are that big newbie to this underbelly of the cinema world as I was (and I still laugh about that when thinking about times back then), soon you will find yourself looking on the net to get some movies from this exploitation director. And a good one.
Lawrence Conti was another name I was not familiar with, unfortunately, his blog on Wordpress is not longer updated, but thanks to his input I’ve discovered Kuntilanak trilogy (pages 22-23), so he gets a lot of praise from me. I mean it. Well written piece and those movies I like – and again, from my personal experience, I have developed my interest in other Asian movies (besides usual Chinese, Japanese and HK stuff). I would definitely recommend to check these movies to all horror movie fans.
Pages 24-34 are dedicated to a astounding article by Andrew Leavold about his experiences while preparing the fucking fantastic (Rudolf, did you just said the F word? Yes, I did!) documentary The Search for Weng Weng. You know, Weng Weng, the midget Phillipino actor? No? Then you are in for a big big surprise! And thankfully, one of the movies he starred in – For Y’ur Height Only – was released by aforementioned Mondo Macabro label and still available (among many other great movies) from their page.
And Karl Kaefer again, this time with stuff I haven’t heard about at all except from his article in this issue. I have to admit I will skip this trilogy cos I haven’t been that much awed (there is nothing wrong with the article, just some films I am not into). But if satire si your thing, then pages 35-38 is your stuff to go to.
Where the hell does Brian Harris pull the stuff out from? His first contribution (not counting, of course, editorial) to this issue is a revealing article about Nollywood (that’s Nigerian cinema, for those who don’t know) and the demonic double feature of Helen Ukpabio (pages 39-41). And that’s the beauty of it. We, who were raised with a standard cinematic outpouring, would and will probably be shocked by not so expected stuff from unknown parts of the world, but just the notion of existence of such a weird stuff makes one wonder – how good is it? How bad? Well, after reading the article I am definitely curious to find out, and I like Brian’s writing style, so you can’t lose here.
And as to empower his presence, we have another article by Brian straight next to the one we’ve discussed. Any love for The Asylum production company? Of course, now better known due to Sharknado franchise, these modern exploiteers made or distributed a lot of other movies and Brian looks into some of these. You know, bad CGI, ridiculous dialogues…everything we love in 4 pages (pages 42-45).
Now, kids, if you’re not 18 or over, skip pages 46-59, as the article by David Zuzelo deals with late great Joe D’Amato’s porn movies output in 1990s. Great writing, great pictures and probably great movies to boot! I haven’t seen any of those, although I do have some knowledge of it (but for the modern “big budget” productions I know only Tatyana and The Pyramid with Tania Russoff). Not that I won’t check these, though! You know…for review purposes, if you know what I mean. 🙂
C. T. McNeely contributes a nicely written article about Sonny Chiba (pages 61-64) and it’s all you need to know to know (no mis-typing mistake here!) you’re gonna like it. Because, is there anything unlikable about Sonny? Yeah, I’ve thought so.
For something totally different, Robin Bougie, the man behind a famous (or infamous, pick your side) magazine and series of books Cinema Sewer, brings an interesting look at “The Top Ten Weirdest Improvised Weapons in Film History”. I won’t spoil it, but as with many articles or reviews in WCH, now I have itch and crave these movies!!! Help!
68-82. That’s not some lower body portion of an aspiring model, but the pagecount, where you will find a long, detailed interview with Tim Doyle (we’ve already mentioned him as an artist responsible for the cover image variant B) conducted by Tony Strauss, which tells you at least one thing – if you remember the page count for Tony’s inaugural article from WCH #3 (a detailed analysis of Zulawski’s Possession), you know that Tony is really, really pedantic, so expect a lot of information presented. Myself, I can’t be delighted more.
And we’re not done yet! Another interview, another interesting person! This time it’s Brian Harris’ piece talking to Ryan Nicholson. Remember Gutterballs? Yeah, that’s the guy responsible for it (pages 83 and 84).
Last interview in this volume (pages 85-86) comes from Graham Rae, a seasoned (can I say, veteran) writer, interviewing Ugandan filmmaker Lubega Vincent. Definitely interesting, as I am sure there are not many Ugandan movies out to talk about, I just wish the replies from Vincent would be little longer. But hey, you can’t dictate what they have to say.
It’s Geek Roundable time! That’s what you can say coming to pages 88-98, where our authors and contributors speak about their takes on Lucio Fulci’s The House By The Cemetery. And within the range there is also a page about the Christian edit of the movie, which I haven’t a slightest idea about.
There are a few features in WCH I really like and always read first. Now we’re coming to the first of these (unfortunately, it’s not always present in every issue, but you can’t always get what you want, remember that!), and that’s Brian Harris’ “Box Set Beatdown … Adventures in Bin Diving!”. 9 long pages of goodies, ladies and gentlemen! Brian talks about movies from some box sets and thanks to this article I’ve acquired at least one of these! So, if you are curious if there’s any value in boxsets like Grindhouse Experience volume 1 & 2, Grindhouse Experience – Eye on Horror, Grindhouse Experience – Mercs, Red Ninja Collection, Sci-fi Invasion and Scream Theater, you owe to yourself to explore the reviews of movies here. What a blast! I have only two of these, but damn, do I want them all!
And we’re still in the game! Pages 108 and 109 bring a helluva lot of info about Mill Cree Entertainment’s boxsets, and no matter what, I’d love to have them all, but alas…I think some are fairly out-of-print now, so good luck finding them on Ebay and such. And if you are just a newbie exploring new genres, and new movies, what’s better than a movie pack of movies you have never heard about? True, not everyone is a movie gem, but we’re in for a ride!
Stephen R. Bisette’s Spider Baby Sinema article (pages 110-117) contains another batch of reviews, and as usual, I’ve learned a thing of two about obscure stuff. And I have to mention the very nice habit of authors and editors to emphasize the titles of the movies they refer to, so they stand out, and you know, if you have 4-5 other movies mentioned in other movie’s review, then your cinematic experience is going to last quite long. Unless it’s something very very bad…but that’s another thing, of course.
A second part of Steve’s Video Store is next, pages 118-119, by Steven Ronquillo, in this intallment he talks about movies, whose titles start with “Don’t”. And as you might know, there were quite a few of those.
Douglas Waltz is the author of Mexican Monsters on Parade (pages 121-124). Mexploitation is weird, but great and I’m glad I got some movies mentioned in this article for my collection. And that’s how it should be, I hope you’ll agree…
And now, second of my favorite featuring articles! Jeff Goodhartz is responsible for the absolutely super series of articles about the master of HK exploitation, that little guy named Godfrey Ho. And to his output is dedicated “Pimping Godfrey Ho”, reviewing some of the unbelievable output of this once very prolific director. Ninjas, ‘Namsploitation, martial arts…this guy has done them all and with an unforgettable … I hesitate to use that word, but yeah, success!
126-154. 28 pages of Indian horror cinema by Tim Paxton (with help of Cara Romano). Tim’s articles about Indian cinema are probably the best thing in the WCH. Not that I dislike other authors, but this stuff is so far anything but fantastic!!! Of course, I commend Tim for watching it all, as I am pretty aware some of the output is pretty unwatchable, but to read about that kind of movies…beyond belief! If there is a single stuff to buy this issue for, this one it is. No doubt about that.
Danae Dunning, that Goth/metal/hippie chick from Hobbs, New Mexico, U.S.A., offers her opinion on some movies with her share of reviews (150-160). I find her pick of the Christian horror double feature very interesting, as I haven’t been as yet exposed to this kind of material, and good thing is, apart from one or two movies she presents stuff I haven’t read about or known before, so that’s always a plus for me. And her. And on page 161 she writes about the three Fulci movies, read that too!
Pages 164-189 contain another section of reviews, this time from various authors and it always takes me ages to read them, as I usually jump to my phone or computer to check the availability of movies straight away. And the selection here is nothing but excellent.
Another of my fave section, OK, two sections together, is The Bookshelf and OOP: Out Of Print. So many great books, magazines and zines mentioned here, for all I will just mention the fabulous Xerox Ferox I have bought just because I have read about it here. Helpful? You can bet your last dollar on that!
And the last article for today is a long (as usual with Tim Paxton’s work) and informative piece on the Devil in the movies titled “The Exorcist Made Me Do It” he wrote with David Todarello. Great writing, great reading and again – a boatload of movies I need to watch. Damn, I need to get some potion of immortality to be able to devour all this stuff!!
And if that’s not enough for you, go solve the krisword puzzle on page 215 and get familiar with authors and contributors to this issue (pages 216-217).
I know this review is loooong and probably boring, but Weng’s Chop, this astounding, amazing publication of love for the movies and related stuff deserves to be treated with that kind of respect. And if people preparing each and every issue spent days working on it, a few pages of unashamed appraisal won’t hurt. Who’s with me?!