By Mike White
Backwash - $2 - (204 3rd Street Apt 1, Hoboken, NJ 07030)
It's a rare zine that can make me laugh out loud. Even less frequently do I find zines that cause such a bout of laughter that I have to stop reading and catch my breath but that happened quite a few times while I read Marc Hartzman's Backwash.
Written in straightforward, thoughtful prose that reminded me of the song "Jesus Was Way Cool" by King Missile. It's no small coincidence, then, that Backwash #9 features an interview with John S. Hall, King Missile's lead "singer." More than his interviews with musicians, I really dig Hartzman's takes on subjects such as the "Greatest" American Hero ("They give the guy a costume, a few powers, and an afro, and we're supposed to buy into it?"), the Wonder Twins ("As a female Wonder Twin, does Jayna wear a Wonderbra?"), and Plasticman ("If he were standing on the street, and some punk started yelling at him from a window on the 8th floor, he could stretch up to the window and pop that sucka right in the mouth"). Issue #9 also includes some hilarious movie reviews of under-appreciated blaxploitation classics such as SUGAR HILL, THE THING WITH TWO HEADS, and, my favorite, BLACK SHAMPOO. Funny as hell!
Trash Times #6 - $2 - (PO Box 248, Glenview, IL 60025)
It seems that every major metropolis has had their claim to at least one crazed late-night horror film host. In Detroit, a good number of folks fondly recall The Ghoul, Sir Graves Ghastly and even local radio boob Tom Ryan's portrayal of Count Scary. If you start talking about Son of Svengoolie, however, puzzled looks abound. I clearly recall watching a guy in a top hat with more eye make-up than Siouxsie Sioux who showed trashy flicks late night on WKBD but few other folks do. In Chicago, however, Svengoolie is alive, well, and showing crummy films on Channel 26, WCIU. How do I know this? Because of Rich Berhen's terrific zine, Trash Times.
Trash Times appears to get better with each issue. More reviews, more interviews, and more insightful features (like the write-up on Svengoolie). Put together with gal pal and fellow astute writer, Suzy, Trash Times is a definitely focused on the psychotronic with write-ups of flicks like THE STEWARDESSES and BEAT GIRL, Trash Times isn't without its unique take on more mainstream films like WAKING NED DEVINE and SPECIES.
Other, lesser publications might be considered "thin and messy" while Trash Times befits the use of the euphemistic phrase "concise and put together with a rebellious DIY attitude" when describing its look and feel. Definitely one of the great indie movie zines out there!
For more information on Svengoolie, check out www.webpoint.com/tms/halloween.
Cinema Sewer #2 - $2 - (#320-440 East 5th Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V5T-1H8 Canada)
Long time Cashiers du Cinemart fan, contributor and co-winner of the "Design Mr. T's Custom Van" contest in CdC #8, Robin Bougie took the plunge and developed his own zine, Cinema Sewer. As the title implies, Robin has turned his attention to the dregs of film: dealing with topics like "The Top Ten Violent Sex Videos Ever" and "Death Videos". Yet, instead of just being a gross-out, Robin's sense of humour tempers the material and makes it highly interesting.
Far scarier than THE FACES OF DEATH, in his second issue Robin gives a tip of his hat to CABIN BOY which he rates as one of the three best overlooked comedies of the '90's along with RUBEN & ED and ...AND GOD SPOKE. Oh, okay, I'll admit it. I've watched CABIN BOY a few times and crack up when anyone does a hula dance like Andy Richter.
With two reviews of LOST HIGHWAY (appropriate for the film's theme of duality as well as the typical "love it or hate it" attitude it invokes), comix, an introductory overview of the films of Andy Kaufman, and other tasty tidbits, Cinema Sewer is top notch!
Sight Unseen #1 - $2 - (Bard College, PO Box 5000, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000)
An amazing first issue from Gretchen Hogue, Sight Unseen is so rough around the edges that you can see the scotch tape holding pictures in place. I love it! The look of the issue might by cut & paste (or tape) but the writing inside is polished and filled with insight.
Sight Unseen is billed like an Isaac Hayes albumó"an undergroundindependentavantgardediy film zine." What's best is that Gretchen delivers on that auspicious description. Covering her internship with Sarah Jacobson (see CdC #8), Gretchen concentrates on how MARY JANE'S NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE has been thus far distributed and the "punk ethics" Jacobson employed to get her terrific film noticed. Gretchen also interviews Baltimore filmmaker Martha Colburn, giving her some well-deserved press. There are a couple of movie and video reviews included as well as a neat instructional piece on building an optical printer.
There's a definite feminist slant to SU but it's not so "in your face" that male readers will feel left out. I'm looking forward to SU #2!