Pulp Friday: Cruising

While many would be familiar with William Friedkin’s 1980 film Cruising, and the controversy that surrounded its making and reception, less well known is the 1970 source novel of the same name, written by New York Times reporter, Gerald Walker. The book was published just over a year after a series of demonstrations by members of the gay and lesbian community in response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, seen by many as the start of the modern gay liberation movement.

Policeman Jack Lynch – Al Pacino’s character of Steve Burns in the film – is called to a meeting by his boss, Edelson (played by Paul Sorvino in the film), and offered a job to go undercover to catch a serial killer targeting members of Manhattan’s gay community. The killer’s MO is that he brutally stabs his victims – the most one recent nearly seventy times. According to Edelson, the city authorities are concerned the murders, which the police have managed to keep out of the newspapers, will wreck “the homosexual tourist trade” if word of them gets out. Lynch, who has a vague physical resemblance to a number of the victims, is promised a detective’s shield if he takes the job.… Read more

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“The Horror Never Leaves My Mind”: Ian Sharp’s ‘Who Dares Wins’

I have just contributed my debut piece for the amazing site, We Are The Mutants. It’s on nuclear nightmares & the amazingly contradictory contradictory politics of Ian Sharp’s 1982 film, Who Dares Wins. A sledgehammer of the 1980s political thriller, influenced by real events and with an avowedly conservative agenda, the film was a favourite of US President Ronald Reagan. But is also accurately captures much of the zeitgeist of the peace movement, which I was active in, of the time.

You can check out my piece in full here.

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The Evil Touch talk at the Australian National Film & Sound Archive

I know from previous mentions of the show this site, that there are more than a few fans amongst you of the early 1970s Australian television horror anthology show, The Evil Touch.

For those who live in Canberra or nearby, I’ll be giving a talk on the show at the National Film and Sound Archive from 6pm on Friday, September 6.

The late 1960s/early 1970s was viewed as the peak period for horror anthology television. The Evil Touch is Australia’s only contribution to this particular broadcast niche. Made specifically for the American market – at a time when little Australian TV was made, let alone exported overseas – it bombed when it aired locally in 1973 and the 26 episode show is now largely forgotten and remains unavailable on DVD.

Although cheaply made, the show remains strangely effective, at times, genuinely disturbing viewing. The grainy look and surreal narrative style give it the feel – to use the words of American television critic John Kenneth Muir – of ‘a low grade transmission straight from hell’.

My talk will look at the show’s origins, making and reception. As part of the event, the NFSA will also screening two episodes: the debut episode that aired in 1973, ‘The Obituary’, starring Leslie Nielsen, and what I think is the most innovative episode, ‘Kadaitcha Country’, starring Leif Erickson as an alcoholic Christian missionary assigned to a remote outback mission, where he immediately comes into contact with an Aboriginal ‘witch doctor’ called the Kadaitcha Man.… Read more

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“There is no phone ringing, dammit!” Projection Booth episode 422 : The Omega Man

I’m thrilled to tell you all that episode 422 of The Projection Booth podcast is live and features yours truly, joining co-hosts Mike White and Maurice Bursztynski, to talk about Boris Sagal’s 1971 dystopian science fiction film, The Omega Man.

The Omega Man stars Charlton Heston as Richard Neville, the last human survivor of a devastating biological plague – so he thinks. Neville spends his days hunting down the only other remnants of the human race, a group of anti-technology, homicidal mutants, known as the Family, and headed by an ex-TV news reader, Matthias (Anthony Zerbe). At night, the only time that the sun sensitive mutants can come out, Neville holes up in his swanky Los Angeles apartment, trying to avoid being killed and living a weird pantomime of his pre-apocalypse linking, drinking too much and playing chess with a statue of Julius Caesar.

That is until he discovers another human survivor.

There are several reasons why I am so enamoured by The Omega Man. As I discuss in my monograph on another masterpiece of 1970s dystopian SF cinema, Rollerball, SF was a relatively marginal genre of cinema until 1968. That year saw two films released that changed the perception of the genre: Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey.… Read more

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Early praise for Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and the Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950-1980

Just a quick reminder that the second pulp book that I have co-edited with Iain McIntyre, Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and the Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950-1980, will be out in a few months.

Amid trying to finalise a PhD, I have also been working with the US based designer on the layout of the book, and can I say it looks great. In the meantime, here is the advance praise that we have received about the book.

From the profane to the sacred, this scholarly, obsessive volume reveals forgotten tribes of Amazons, Soul Brothers, Hustlers, Queers, Vigilantes, Radical Feminists and Revolutionaries – the radical exploitation of gnostic pulp.

Jon Savage, author of 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded

This is the ultimate guide to sixties and the counterculture, of which I was a part. Long hair, bellbottoms, short dresses, and a kiss-my-ass attitude to the powers that be. Real meat on real bone, the stuff of one of the most unique and revolutionary generations ever, baby. You need this.

Joe R. Lansdale

This book is a story about stories—the rough-and-tumble mass fiction of the 1950s to the 80s, written to offend The Establishment and delight the rest of us. In Sticking It to the Man, McIntyre and Nette offer us a fascinating smorgasbord of (un)savory tales—the kind whose covers entice and whose texts compel.… Read more

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