Monday, December 13, 2010

Have Yourself a Trashy Little Xmas: Day 7/Time to Get Impossibly Funky

Over the course of Exploitation Retrospect's 14-year, 50-issue run I was always happy when people told me they enjoyed the zine and got a kick out of our reviews of trash cinema, music, the odd videogame and – eventually – food.

But I'll be the first to admit that when push came to shove there were probably two dozen zines I would have much rather read than my own: Slimetime (and later, Shock Cinema), Shock XPress, Videooze, Hi-Tech Terror/European Trash Cinema, Hitch, Violent Leisure, Fatal Visions and Wet Paint were just a few of the titles that I'd rip through in one sitting the moment they hit my PO Box.

Mike White's Cashiers du Cinemart is another publication that belongs on that list, though I was never quite sure if it was a film magazine disguised as a zine, or vice versa.

While we were getting blind drunk and "reviewing" SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, White and his crew were exposing the, ahem, coincidences between Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS and Ringo Lam's CITY ON FIRE. While I was comparing TV biopics about Liberace, White was doing an exhaustive examination of Richard Stark's anti-hero Parker.

In his contributor bio White is described as being "midbrow" – too lowbrow for some, too highbrow for others. And that word – "midbrow" – is actually an excellent way to describe what you'll find in the recently-released Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection. The nearly 400-page volume gathers feature articles and interviews from the magazine's 14-year, 15-issue existence including sections devoted to White's favorite target (Tarantino), favorite film (BLACK SHAMPOO), and even his love-hate relationship with George Lucas' STAR WARS saga.

But the articles I always looked forward to most in Cashiers were the examinations of unproduced screenplays and the alternate cinematic universes they suggest. Luckily, that rich topic also warrants its own section and its where I think the book is at its best. Rather than reporting on films that exist (the Parker flicks, Lone Wolf & Cub series, etc.) White and Co. dive into early drafts of such films as Joel Schumacher's 8mm, the Halle Berry stinker CATWOMAN, ALIENS III and the reboot of the PLANET OF THE APES, providing glimpses into what might have been.

One of my favorite Cashiers pieces – a look at all the botched attempts to relaunch The Man of Steel that appeared in issue #15 – gets reprinted here complete with all the casting tidbits (Tim Allen as Brainiac?! Russell Crowe as Superman?!) and the various attempts to kill and resurrect Superman, link it with THE MATRIX films, and even bring a director like Tim Burton or Oliver Stone on board.

One of the great things about this collection – you know, aside from a cover illustration that features Ralphus from BLOODSUCKING FREAKS – is that no matter if you're feeling highbrow, lowbrow or even midbrow, Impossibly Funky offers something that'll fit the bill.

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