Category Archives: Australian popular culture

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

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

The weird and wonderful history of the Logie Awards

The 61th annual Logie Awards for Australian television take place tonight. The red carpet procession, those strange looking statues, the local and international celebrities, it’s easy and a bit predictable to bag out Australia’s ‘night of nights’, even many of the guests who attend the awards do so live on social media.

Some facts about the Logies are well known. Bert Newton has hosted the awards ceremony 19 times. Kylie Minogue made history in 1988 by being the youngest star to win the Gold Logie. The awards were held on an ocean liner twice and, in 1970, a special Gold Logie was awarded to the astronauts on the Apollo 11 for providing TV’s greatest moment, the telecast of the moon landing.

Other Logie related facts – the colourful and controversial – are not so familiar, and traces of them can only be found by a deep dive into the Internet and, in particular, the bowels of YouTube, where various unknown individuals have preserved snippet of the various awards ceremonies (whoever you are, thank you!).

The first Logie Awards were held in 1959, just a few years after the introduction of television in Australian (Googie Withers was guest presenter and the Gold Logie went to Graham Kennedy and Panda Lisner, who appeared as the character Princess Panda on the Channel 9 children’s program The Happy Show).… Read more

Book review: Murder on Easy Street

Back in 2014, I wrote a piece for the Wheeler Centre site about what I described as the ‘new wave’ of true crime works. These books differed from the earlier style of true crime work, which, with a few exceptions, were liable to be by the numbers, often quickly written books about sensational crimes – serial killers being a favourite – put together from various second hand sources, with a bit of local colour thrown into the mix.

The new wave of true crime books I was referring to, were more literary, focused on the political processes around the crime in question and, indeed, had a much broader definition of what ‘crime’ was. More often than not, they also seemed to be written by individuals that were either directly involved in the crime in question or somehow managed to shoe horn their own life experience into what they are writing about, so they become as much about the author as whatever crime they are writing about. When these kind of true crime books work, they can work big time. But they don’t always work.

If I had to classify it, I would say Helen Thomas’s Murder on Easy has more of the former type of book in it than the latter.… Read more

The pulp magazines under the floorboards

Dime Mystery Magazine, July 1936

One of the very cool things about having an online profile in relation to the history of pulp fiction is, from time to time, people make contact and send me old pulp novels and magazines they feel I might be able to make good use of. And a couple of months ago I was offered a collection of mainly American pulp magazines from the 1930s, found while renovating a house in Melbourne.

Queensland academic Toni Johnson-Woods has written about how the origins of Australia’s post war pulp publishing industry lie in import restrictions on print material introduced by the Australian government in 1938. The restrictions were mainly aimed an American publications, especially remaindered comics and pulp magazines which were being dumped in large quantities in Australia in the 1930s. This dumping fuelled an unlikely alliance of groups who pressured for the restrictions: religious organisations, concerned about the moral impact of these publications; nationalists who viewed cheap American publications and other forms of mass American culture, such as jazz and US motion pictures, as a threat to our then Anglo-aligned culture; educationalists; and protectionists worried about the livelihoods of local writers printers and artists.

I have always been curious to to see for myself exactly what it was that could have been so offensive and dangerous about these pulp magazines as to warrant import restrictions to prevent them entering the country.… Read more