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My NoirCon places

goodisIn just under a month from now, one of the most interesting literary festivals I have had the pleasure of attending kicks off in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, the home of Edgar Allen Poe and David Goodis: NoirCon.

This year, NoirCon runs from October 26 to 30. If you already plan on attending, see you there. If not, now is the time to register.

It’s runs is not your common or garden-variety festival. No way. And that is a very good thing. The focus is firmly on noir, mainly fiction, but also film, poetry or whatever (and that last category, ‘whatever’, encapsulates some pretty bizarre material). It is great to sit in a room of people who, more or less, are all on the same page about their love of noir.

Anyway, NoirCon’s organiser, Lou Boxer, has come up with another terrific program, including some special guest, which you can view in detail here.

This year, I am thrilled to say I will be part of the program. I’ll be presenting on the morning of Friday, October 28, on the history of Australian pulp paperback publishing. I’m also reading at the Noir at the Bar as part of NoirCon, which will take place from 6.30pm at the Pen & Pencil Club, 1522 Latimer Street, Philadelphia, hosted by the inevitable Philly crime fiction identity, Peter Rozovsky.… Read more

10 great biker films

PsychomaniaThis September, the living dead won’t be shuffling on to the screen, they’ll roar across it on the back of motorcycles, as the BFI releases its Blu-ray of Australian-born director Don Sharp’s 1973 cult film, Psychomania, a fusion of two obsessions of early 70s exploitation cinema: the occult and vicious motorcycle packs.

Motorcycle gangs first appeared on the big screen in the early 1950s. A trickle of motorcycle-themed film appeared until the mid-60s, but it wasn’t until the release of US gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s 1966 book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and then the 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway concert, at which Hells Angels working as bouncers killed an audience member, that popular culture’s preoccupation with criminal motorcycle gangs reached fever pitch.

Hollywood produced a deluge of outlaw biker movies and, while this has been the motorcycle’s most common screen manifestation, the machines have also symbolised the quest for freedom and self-discovery.

My latest piece for the British Film Institute site, 10 major cinematic milestones focused on the motorbike, is available to read in full here.

What are your favourite films featuring motorcycles?

Gunshine State launch, September 15, Brunswick Bound bookstore

Gunshine StateA quick heads up for Melbourne folk that I will be launching my second novel, Gunshine State, on Thursday 15 September at Brunswick Bound bookstore, 361 Sydney Road, Brunswick.

I am very excited to announce that my friend and Perth based crime writer, David Whish-Wilson, whose work I have reviewed extensively on this site and whose new novel, Old Scores is out later this year, will be on hand to launch my novel. Copies of the book will be available for purchase on the night.

Gunshine State is a heist thriller set in Queensland, Melbourne and Thailand. Think Richard Stark’s Parker, Garry Disher’s Wyatt, and Wallace Stroby’s Crissa Stone. Add a touch of Surfers Paradisesleaze and a very dangerous stopover in Asia. It will be out in e-book and paperback on September 12 from 280 Steps. You can read about the book, some of the great praise it has already gathered and how you can get your hands on it at the 280 Steps site here.

The launch will kick off at around 6.30pm and go until 8 – 8.30pm, after which we will kick on at one of Brunswick’s many local watering holes.

Everyone is welcome to attend and I hope to see you there.

And while I am on the subject of launching my book, any readers who have a website or blog and who want to review Gunshine State or are interested in me stopping by to do a guest post or author Q&A, don’t hesitate to give me a shout out in the comments section below, and I will get back to you.… Read more

Celluloid Apocalypse’s mini-festival of seventies Italian crime cinema

The Italian Connection poster 2The Melbourne based purveyor of boutique VHS, Celluloid Apocalypse, is about to unleash upon the world its special VHS edition of Mike Malloy’s excellent documentary, Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Movies that Ruled the 70s. The documentary is a fascinating examination of the wave of Italian ‘poliziotteschi’ films that reached the height of its popularity in the mid-1970s, in response to the success of films like The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972) and the Dirty Harry films.

The films are fast past paced, ultra violent, ultra hard boiled and, at first glance, appear to yet another in the cycle of Italian rip-offs of successful American crime films, in much the same was as Spaghetti Westerns riffed off the popularity of the US Western. But while these films were cheaply made and quickly produced, for the most part they are far more interesting and sophisticated than simple knock offs.

While they utilised, and sometimes just plain copied, the standard tropes of seventies Hollywood crime film, they also interrogated uniquely Italian issues, including political dominance of organised crime, the wave of politically inspired terrorism characterised the country’s so-called ‘years of lead’, and the changing nature of society and gender relations in Italy. Another fascinating aspect is the fact that in addition to their Italian stars, many of these films boast performances by well known American and British actors who took the roles after their domestic film careers had began to decline.… Read more

Thirst: Australia’s first vampire film

Thirst 4Rod Hardy’s 1979 film, Thirst, now re-released by local distributor Glass Doll Films, is commonly referred to as a good example of Ozsploitation cinema, the term given to the wave of Australian low-budget horror, comedy, and action films made after the introduction of the R-rating in 1971. That description and categorisation doesn’t do justice to how good a horror film Thirst is in its own right, not to mention its place in the broader sub-genre of vampire cinema.

As well as being ahead of its time, Thirst borrows from the healthy lineage of vampire cinema in the late sixties and seventies, as well as horror cinema more generally, including the canon of stylish, erotic, vampire films that appeared in the seventies; Harry Kumel’sDaughters of Darkness (1971), Jesus Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos (1971) and Female Vampire (1973), and on the other side of the Atlantic, Stephanie Rothman’s The Velvet Vampire (1971). These fused art house sensibilities and soft-core porn aesthetics with horror tropes and sexual experimentation.

You can read my review of Thirst in full, here at the 4:3 site.