Book review: TRASHFIEND by Scott Stine
Scott Aaron Stine, author of TRASHFIEND, a 320 page book that covers films, magazines, comicbooks, and various collectibles from the ’60s and ’70s along with some very eclectic interviews is a book that only some of the taste-rattled and brain-fried film buffs of horror and sleaze that consider dumpster diving into pop culture a refined art and see no end to the growth and culmination of one’s own various collections ever coming to an end. I read this book with an intensity that had me as giddy as a schoolboy about to see his first up close and personal view of a woman’s vagina; a vagina in the flesh and one that may even get to be touched and tinkered with—an experiment involving juices flowing in and out that were somehow more appealing and profoundly mind-blowing while viewed on the t.v. screen during the porn film. Wait, am I talking about a book on trashy horror, exploitation, and sci-fi films or am I talking about a horny teenager about to experience a young, woman’s vagina? Honestly, seeing a vintage, forgotten trash film for the first time that has been unbeknownst to this writer really can only compare to the first time seeing a new vagina on a really attractive girl (preferably a vagina that has not succumbed to the pressure of the Brazilians and their ridiculous ritual of waxing off all pubic hairs and bringing the sex organ down to its barest nature) and giving the go-ahead to all forms and manner of exploration. Again, this review is not that of a female vagina, but simply of a book that focuses on reviews of some of the most god-awful pieces of low-budget fare that have come out on DVD (from the time the book was published) up until 2009. Hell, some of these films may even be out on Blu-ray at this point.
As much as I would like to talk about the vagina and its furry exploits (Brazilian wax jobs need not apply!), I must get back to talking about Mr. Stine’s book, TRASHFIEND: Disposable horror fare of the 1960s & 1970s, Vol. 1, published in a paperback format measuring 6×9″. The glossy pages, filled with both black and white photos and colored ones, only add to the vivid imagery and colorful descriptions of some of the worst movies ever to be viewed on the big screen and later put onto dvd. Just as “trash” is in the title of this book, many film viewers of a higher class and more “cultured background” might find these films to be categorized as “turkeys” or Z-Grade films–which they may be! On the other hand, I find Mr. Stine to have collected within the pages of TRASHFIEND a very well-rounded variety of various B-Films (and yes some be of the Z variety) that offer some form of entertainment to the viewer. In fact, just the other night I attended a “Drive-Thru” screening of THE GREEN SLIME, one of Kinji Fukasaku’s notoriously “bad” films involving a space station overtaken by green slime creatures of some sort that walk around waving their arms and electrocuting people to death in their quest for accumulating energy. Yeah, I know, this sounds like a fucking awesome movie with plot as solid as dried concrete. Hell, for as many flaws as the film possessed, it not only entertained everyone watching the movie but had us laughing uproariously at the ridiculous dialogue, low-budget special effects and set design, and the most memorable opening theme song entitled, you guessed it, Green Slime. The film has been made fun of by countless movie critics, film buffs, and generally termed a “so bad it’s good” movie. I loved it and will be adding it to my collection.
Just as this film geek treasured his first-time viewing of THE GREEN SLIME as going down as a pleasant experience and memory that will never be forgotten, Mr. Stine has collected and put into print a genre calling itself “trash” and those that thirst for it “fiends”…well, that may not be entirely true or what Mr. Stine had in mind when entitling his zine Trashfiend in 2002 and self-publishing it, but it may have well be very darn close! The various reviews, interviews, and articles on various artists, directors, actors/actresses, and pieces on other collectibles that only hardcore collectors may know about is written in such a way that one knows the writer is extremely passionate about.
My favorite parts of this book were the numerously humorous reviews for a great deal of movies that some feel should have best been left forgotten. Frankly, the reviews are written in such a way that one finds a strong desire to seek out these seemingly crappy horror and exploitation films and own them, if at the very least just viewing them. Many of the films in this book I have not seen. Their titles are not unfamiliar to me, I just have seen their lurid box art on the dvd’s cover and felt that it was too high a gamble to buy the film blindly. After reading Mr. Stine’s book, I now know that many of these films were indeed schlocky crapfests and my inner intuition was correct. I also realize that I have come to enjoy watching these films from such companies as Alpha Home Entertainment, Barrel Entertainment, and Something Weird Video and almost as bad as the movies are is how much laughter and entertainment one can derive from them. For this reader and writer, Mr. Stine has opened up an already discovered world of horror and exploitation but just given it a different sort of spin to it and shedding some new light on it. Mr. Stine has a love for some of the worst films of the ’60s and ’70s and although I think he knows that most of these films are considered “bad” by design and execution, in his mind (and in other peoples’ minds) these films are good for some laughs and can be appreciated and fun to watch. By no means will any of these films ever come out on Criterion, but they will be revered for being awful in some circles in just the same manner.
A novice to these trashy films can pick up TRASHFIEND and still enjoy all the various reviews, interviews, and pieces on an assortment of different horror comicbooks and publishers in much the same a reader enjoys reading a book on a foreign topic to him or her for the first time. Mr. Stine is a solid writer and his style makes for a unique and enjoyable read. There is a very strong human element to his book and one does not need to be versed in the way of the trashfiend collector, one just has to have an appreciation for reading a work of nonfiction and have somewhat of an interest in horror, films, comicbooks, or various collectibles in the horror or sci-fi arena. One of the chapters in the book focuses on a local television show and personality that probably only viewers in the Seattle, WA area probably would remember if they liked staying up late and watching cheesy horror films on regular television. Myself having never heard of Nightmare Theatre, Joe “The Count” Towey, or the clown J.P. Patches before (myself having grown up in Chicago and its Northwest Suburbs and familiar with Son of Svengoolie (Richard Koz) and the Koz Zone on Channel 32 (Fox 32)) but reading the various stories and author Stine’s hunt for more information on a show that he watched almost religiously as a young child was heart-enduring. I could relate to having one’s fondest memories of a television show instilled in one’s heart and soul. I still, personally, crave for my Samurai Sundays and just being able to watch hokey monster films featuring Godzilla and Gamera as the lead reptilian badasses.
Another incredible aspect and feature to Headpress-published book is, in addition to the glossy pages, plentiful b/w and color photos and artwork within, there is also a lengthy appendix showcasing artists, writers, and publications mentioned in the book and cataloged within. For a collector, this is truly an orgasmic feature for if one has truly gotten bit by the collector bug then the various magazines and comicbooks are easily available at the touch of a page to reference and jump on Ebay or any other website to look for them. I personally am finding great joy scoring a very sought-after collectible at a flea Market or garage sale and paying very little for some of these gems!
As if one couldn’t tell from my gloriously, raving review—I LOVED this book! I really know that I will find myself going back to TRASHFIEND and using it as a very valuable resource. Already, I have added and even purchased a few of the dvds reviewed within its pages and find myself opening up a whole new chapter to my life in what new things I will be finding an appreciation of. I also was overjoyed to learn that Scott Stine has also published The Gorehound’s Guide to Splatter Films of the 1960s & 1970s [McFarland Publishing, 2001] and The Gorehound’s Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s [McFarland Publishing, 2003]. I hope to acquire copies of these books and share my thoughts with readers at SHU-IZMZ on how the books are. I find that with the dawn of the internet and technology, printed books are becoming something seen and read less and less because of E-readers, Nooks, Kindles, and iPads. I, for one, will never get rid of any of my books because NOTHING beats the smell, look, and feel of a nice heavy book filled with gloriously set bindings and covers and they become collectible pieces themselves, only filled with loads of useful knowledge and trapped visuals and sensations that only the reader can feel and experience once those pages are opened and read. A tiny electronic device just somehow never captures that feeling.
If one would like to pick up Scott Stine’s TRASHFIEND, head on over to its publisher HEADPRESS and order a copy. One will NOT be disappointed!