The web site “Bleeding Skull” (my web site review here: http://www.noisepuncher.net/2021/05/13/web-site-spotlight-bleeding-skull/) dives deep, deep, deep in the scummy abyss like recesses of the pop culture of yesteryear and the present, bringing up the celluloid filth that most everybody else would like to see gone from the face of the earth. But I am glad I am not everybody else, there is times “Bleeding Skull” actually comes out of the recesses with a fistful of gold and diamonds. “Bleeding Skull” is the only site to have guts enough to try to watch every SOV (shot on video) and mid fi film in existence, I’ve done a review on their web site, now it is time to review the reference books they put out and, boy oh boy, did I find a lot of good movies I otherwise wouldn’t have found without the books and their web site.
The first book, “Bleeding Skull! A 1980’s Trash-Horror Odyssey”, is the first volume, published by the great Headpress Publishing, all films are listed in alphabetical order, with black and white photos and a handy index, this book dares to go into the steaming pile that is SOV and mid fi movies of the 1980’s. In the 1980’s video rental stores (RIP) were popping up all over the country, people forget that movies even back then on VHS weren’t cheap to buy, especially in the early days. So mostly local and regional film makers shot no budget “epics” on their camcorders or Super 8 cameras, using Halloween store make up and cheap prosthetics, primitive computer graphics, using friends, relatives, significant others as actors etc. slapping some interesting cover art on the box and selling them from video store to video store. I actually remember as a kid watching some of these movies when me, my brother and cousin would rent the movie based on the box art, only to take it home and be disappointed. As kids we bought the cover art hook line and sinker, it wasn’t until I was older that I got into SOV, as a kid I was too used to seeing movies with some of a budget, movies like “Dark Crystal”, “Return of the Jedi”, “ET”, “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and the like, not something me and my friends made with my dad’s camcorder. The very first movie that brought back the SOV beast for me was “Black Devil Doll From Hell” directed by Chester Turner, which I stumbled across in “The Psychotronic Video Guide” (you can see my weird book report on aforementioned book right here: http://www.noisepuncher.net/2021/03/25/wtf-is-the-psychotronic-video-guide/) reference book, reading the description made me run out and get it off of ioffer. When I put the movie on my jaw hit the floor, it was like watching some pervert’s home made doll fetish video and then the SOV beast came roaring out from the back of my childhood mind and bit me good. That led me to searching out and finding “Bleeding Skull”. This book “Bleeding Skull! A 1980’s Trash-Horror Odyssey” turned me on to so many other movies from that period of time which I am eternally grateful . In addition to “Black Devil Doll From Hell” you’ll get reviews on movies with titles like “Attack of the Killer Refrigerator”, “Bloody Video Horror That Made Me Puke on My Aunt Gertrude”, “Cannibal Hookers”, “Killer Workout” and the like, you’ll get capsule reviews from Joseph Ziemba who I know personally is a cool dude and has responded to every email and message I have sent him and founder of “Bleeding Skull” and Daniel Budnik whose dry wit and humor had me belly laughing. The two guys don’t take the subject matter too seriously and who would? This book is free wheeling fun like the 1980’s as a decade were, I was literally writing down what movies I had to search out after reading this book, sometimes I couldn’t find the movies they were talking about because they were so rare. Speaking of rare, this book is out of print at Headpress and everywhere else, copies are gonna cost you an arm and leg. Luckily I was a early “Bleeding Skull” fan and bought the book when it was in print. This book covers movies from the 1980’s to the early 1990’s because to be honest the early 1990’s were still the 1980’s style wise.
This is when we dive face first into the 1990’s and face plant…HARD. “Bleeding Skull! A 1990’s Trash-Horror Odyssey” delves deep into the SOV and mid fi cesspit that was the 1990’s. Video rental stores were still around but they were more wise to the “box art masking a home made movie” so different companies sold them direct through catalogs, magazine ads and the newly burgeoning internet. Also, this was when the PC shit beast started to rear its butt ugly head and being “ironic” was the creed of the day. This book was put out this year and I’ve literally been waiting for it for about two years thinking it would never come out. Fantagraphics, whom people who read my site know I love, was taking forever to put it out. Well it finally came out, the dry wit of Daniel Budnik was gone and replaced with Annie Choi, and Zack Carlson with Joe still on board. This time the book has higher production values, it has color photos and art, slick pages, its again in alphabetical order with an index. And again this one put me on to movies I had never heard of movies like “Attack of the Serial Killers from Outer Space”, “Blood Slaves of the Vampire Wolf”, “Frankenstein’s Planet of Monsters!”, “I Was a Teenage Serial Killer” etc. And the problem is Annie, Zack and, to a lesser extent, Joe, took the 1990’s moniker too seriously, don’t get me wrong, the writers replacing Dan are damn funny in their own way, when their not trying to preach or virtue signal. Come on guys, this a fucking book on no budget movies not your college term paper, in fact, when I read some of the reviews peppered with PC millennial/zoomer horse shit, I’d roll my eyes. The prior book had little to no meditating on politics of any kind, in fact in Annie’s review for “I Was a Teenage Serial Killer” she abandons humor altogether and goes on a huge diatribe about how women are still oppressed, no humor at all, all I had to say is “SHUT THE FUCK UP”. I am here to find out about movies I’d never heard, not have some ex college ass hat lecture me on how evil I am, she is not the only one, Joe also does his share of preaching which he didn’t do in the previous book, like under the movie review for “Limbo” you get this “I am a white dude. Because of this, there’s no way for me to understand the challenges women and people of color face on a daily basis (me: semi true). I recognize that my life has been easier (me: bullshit you don’t know that, this isn’t Jim Crow America and not every woman and black person has the same experience, their individuals not a collective faceless mass, like white people, some women and black people have had either easier or tougher experiences depending on their circumstances.) This is why its important for me-and every other white man on the planet-to celebrate the accomplishments of people who are not white whenever possible (me: if their work interests me or their creative that is my criteria not because of skin color or gender, that is what you virtue signals call “Racist”)”. Then he goes on to tell a story of how a woman, Tina Krause, completed and submitted her movie “Limbo” to different film festivals under her own name and got rejection after rejection, then she did it under the name Stephen and was accepted once she was called to address the crowd she went on stage and berated the festival and film goers for “Sexism” and Joe slowly clapped, so Joe did it even enter your mind that maybe since “Limbo” is an SOV movie that most festivals wouldn’t take it? Is it quite possible that they didn’t like the movie and wouldn’t accept it? Too many people are quick to jump on the “victim” band wagon, maybe Tina’s experience was an actual one but this is the kind of crap that hurt the book for me. Annie, Zack and Joe do a good job, but they would’ve done a great job if they hadn’t thrown in the virtue signaling horse shit that is prevalent all over most indie/cult film sites, it isn’t original and its boring. That being said this volume is still good and you can easily ignore the political preaching junk, they don’t do it too much but when they do its annoying and makes them seem like virtue beggars. Guys stick to humor and reviewing movies, save the mealy mouthed bull shit for the talking heads and loser academics in their ivory towers. Mark Polonia who made a shit load of SOV movies and is a SOV legend does the intro for the book. These days digital cameras, cheap computer graphic and editing programs, even phones etc. have made it easier than ever to make movies, the SOV legacy lives on and all one needs to do is go to Amazon Prime Video or Tubi to see the independent spirit to make low to no budget movies is still alive, even though most video stores have gone the way of the dinosaurs. SOV makers now use streaming services, sell DVD and Blu Rays of their own releases through their own web sites and use video hosting sites to show their work, as long as there is a person with a passion and a camera out there of some sort that spirit will never die and “Bleeding Skull” is still the king of digging up these treasures, may they never waver in their pursuit of beautiful trash.
Well good luck finding “Bleeding Skull! A 1980’s Trash-Horror Odyssey” dig deep here digitally or on ebay to try to find a physical copy: https://www.amazon.com/Bleeding-Skull-1980s-Trash-Horror-Odyssey/dp/1900486881
“Bleeding Skull! A 1990’s Trash-Horor Odyssey” just got released but you better snap up a copy while you can because Fantagraphics, like Headpress seems to do only one print run of something get it here folks (not available on Fantagraphics better get it now!): https://www.amazon.com/Bleeding-Skull-1990s-Trash-Horror-Odyssey/dp/1683961862