I remember writing a short review of this great publication before, but recently I felt the urge to get it back in my hands as I wanted to peruse it again to find some glam metal. And you can bet your ass there is loads to discover!
I have to say that reading The Digest Enthusiast (the review of which you could read in Rubber Axe as well) has ignited in me an urge to read some nice fiction as well. It was quite a long time ago when I did that, as I usually read only various reference books and non-fiction stuff. Well, for some strange reason I’ve longed for some crime fiction.
WHO? WHERE? WHAT? OF TRASH CINEMA
Today I want to talk about “Trash Cinema: A Celebration of Overlooked Masterpieces”, which is a compendium put together by editors Andrew J. Rausch and R. D. Riley. This book was published in 2015 both in hardcover and softcover editions (plus e-book, of course) by an US publisher BearManor Media. The book contains 55 articles/essays about various movies we can label “trash cinema”, from the Golden era of 1950s to the fairly new ones.
There is a certain beauty in old books, any bibliophile can tell you that. And if you are into movies, either as a newbie finding his way through the maze of gazzillion movies made, or a seasoned veteran of many all-night-long-moviethons, as such one always appreciates movie related books, usually as a source of discovery of previously unknown moving pictures.
When you‘re starting your love affair with movies – not just watching movies, but actually getting to know and love them – going beyond the latest blockbusters or proved evergreens from yesteryear, suddenly a whole new universe opens. A movie universe many have no clue about, the underbelly of the glittery Hollywood PC-polished timewasters, offering a whole new experience both to a newbie and a seasoned mainstream watcher alike.
One day I was looking for some nice comics crossover and what stuff I‘ve found! With title consisting of my favourite hunter (Predator, not Tarzan, to be precise), I don‘t need to add it took just an eye-blink before I‘ve started browsing online second-hand bookstores – as the original 4-part limited series was published in 1996, there as no other option anyway (although I have to mention that all 4 separate parts were also published in one volume, available, for example, through Amazon).
I have to admit, until recently I haven‘t been a comics reader. Of course, I have been aware of so many great titles, and I was never rejecting them, just not being an avid reader or actively looking for them. As a kid in a commie regime, we haven’t had much possibilities to get our hands on comics books, save some regime-approved titles (but those were sooo damn great, to say the least). But as for classics as a Western reader knows them, nope. Nada. Unless you’ve had some connections, then you were able to get a copy of French magazine Pif! which published comics stories (but who knew French, right?). So my love for graphic novels has to be postponed.
Oh, boy. Oh, boy. I‘ve just realized I could enjoy reading about bad movies more than actually watching them. And I do like reading various encyclopedias, movie guides etc. to find more and more obscure movies one normally just don‘t find unles searching very dilligently.
That‘s where books like the one we‘re gonna review, come handy. For one, I bow before the willingness of the author to go to such lengths, as losing normal sleep hours, tons of money (yep, even bad movies cost money to buy) and risk a falling out with his wife over bad movie dedication. Those of us who‘ve tried that (and who doesn‘t have some kind of (un)healthy hobby, right?) can definitely relate.
I’ve heard the name of Fu-Manchu as a child, but as I had no means to know what the hell is that one about (talk about the availability of pulp literature under the Commies in Czechoslovakia during 1980s), it was only later in my life that I encountered the dreaded Chinese villain.
Only recently I have decided to ease my mind with some good ole pulp stories. I already have some (all?) Fu-Manchu movies in my movie collections (although I haven’t actually watched any of them, believe it or not), so the choice was quite clear.
To my pleasant surprise, I haven’t needed to browse the lists of second-hand dealers with pricy first edition copies, as UK publisher Titan Books has published – not so long ago, in 2012 – this first part of the complete Fu-Manchu series by Sax Rohmer. Talk about bookworm’s delight!
All 14 paperbacks have basically the same cover except the colour of the curtains and the illustration within them are different from one volume to another, and this creates a nice feel of a compact set one can’t help but get to his library. My fate exactly.
Now, for those of you who haven’t encountered this famous pulp fiction, let’s be brief. The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu introduces the aforementioned Chinese genius villain – compared to whom Professor Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame would be a mere apprentice – and two (well, three) of the main characters, Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, who do slightly resemble Doyle’s characters, and Karamaneh, the Oriental slave of Fu-Manchu turned Dr. Petrie’s helper (and, later, his wife).
The story is exactly what the pulp stories are. Straight to the point, no need to bore the reader with a myriads of characters (hello, Mr. Martin!) and gazillions of descriptions. The villain strikes (or is posing to strike) and our heroes run like hell to save the day and the whole White race from the Yellow Peril.
Yes, dear readers, this is a beginning of 20. century and nobody gives a damn about any political correctness. Far from being an offensive read, on the contrary, this novel provides an exact quasi-detailed look into the minds and enviroments of Britain in the dawn of the new era, and the reader is advised to have this in mind when reading this (and following) stories.
If you want to just relax with a great, gripping story and you are already familiar with the resident of Baker Street 221b (and who doesn’t, right?), you can’t go wrong with Smith & Petrie chasing Chinese arch-criminal.
Kudos to Titan Books for bringing these Rohmer’s stories back to print for a modern reader, and as for availability, you should grab them easily either from Titan Books web or from your local Amazon.