Thursday, 3 July 2014

Book Review: SHEER FILTH - Edited by David Flint, FAB Press

Before the internet took over the way that everyone consumed information, interacted, and generally told the world what they thought of things like films through blogs and such, people made fanzines. Often photocopied, rough-looking pamphlets, but created with a passion for the chosen subject which was unrivaled. Sure, maybe some of the facts were a little askew, and the photo reproduction left a lot to be desired, but where else would some Regular Joe living in a remote part of the country get to learn about the perverted, transgressive delights that mainstream magazines dared not touch?
Between 1987 and 1989, David Flint edited and published one such fanzine, Sheer Filth, and he returns to that publication in this collection, published by FAB Press. Reprinted, as-is, is almost all the articles that appeared in the nine-issue run. Writers such as David Slater, David Kerekes and Flint himself have all gone on to bigger things, and become highly respected with fans.
Catering for the sleazier side of the market (and thus making it a prime candidate for my bookshelf), Sheer Filth covered an array of diverse subjects as Nekromantik (including director Jorg Buttgereit's first UK interview), Linnea Quigley, Annie Sprinkle, Bettie Page, Carry On films and Justine, the controversial novel by the Marquis de Sade.
Being a small press publication, there was a fabulous attitude of 'anything goes', so we get pieces on several key porn films of the seventies, and even a short item bemoaning the disappearance of the cumshot in films - which has, of course, made a re-emergence - big time! The use of such extreme images and text was in itself risky, lest we forget, that this was a time when people were having videos confiscated by customs, hardcore porn was illegal, and the mere whiff of a horror film sent the censors into a tizzy fit.
A selection of film and book reviews, are grouped together, making the collection feel more like its own entity, rather than just lazily putting them in the order they were originally released. Even in these sections, there's an eclectic range. Obscure fifties horror titles sit side-by-side with ropey German porn and British sex comedies; and it all feels completely natural.
So what value, other than nostalgia, does this collection of reprints have in the information highway age? Well, there's a lot. Not only is a wonderful snapshot of the time, it also includes some brilliant interviews that would have likely disappeared from trace. Lovers of cult films and counter-culture genres will relish the pieces in which Norman J. Warren, H.G. Lewis (and his partner-in-crime David F. Friedman), Pamela Green and many others open up about their careers. It's eminently readable because they are interviewed by people, like us, who have a passion for the subject - not just carrying out another assignment.

It looks incredibly lo-fi, but the reading experience is pure HD. Buy it while you have the chance. 

10 out of 10

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