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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Book Review: Taboo Breakers

Title: Taboo Breakers
Author: Calum Waddell
Publisher: Telos
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The 1980’s in the UK was a time of political unrest coupled with recession and strikes, so pretty much like 2009, however some politicians had decided that we could not think for ourselves and watch some movies that had been unleashed onto the fledgling home video market. Along with the 1984 Video Recordings Act (which has been in the news recently), some films such as Cannibal Holocaust and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre became taboo, and as a result , like anything that is banned, they became much more interesting and sought after. Calum Waddell’s “Taboo Breakers” delves deep into the background of these and many other movies in an attempt to discover why these cinematic treats stood out at the time and why they are still relevant today.

The author has chosen 18 films to scrutinise and they range from genres such as blaxploitation (Coffy) to classic XXX (Behind the Green Door) and Video Nasties (Cannibal Holocaust) to modern day shockers (Hostel).

The films covered are:

Blood Feast, Night of the Living Dead, Behind the Green Door, Fritz the Cat, The Tenderness of Wolves, Coffy, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Ilsa – She-Wolf of the SS, Candy Tangerine Man, Halloween, Cannibal Holocaust, Maniac, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, The Plague Dogs, The Evil Dead, House of 1000 Corpses, Oldboy and Hostel.

Each film is tackled with the outline and basic plot of the movie, the controversies they caused and a very in depth analysis of the film followed by a “what happened next” detailing what the cast and crew did after the movie’s release, did they disappear or breakout to even greater success? Each chapter is then rounded off with one to one interviews with many of the main protagonists of each feature that help to give a deeper understanding of the film and what really happened behind the scenes!

If you are a fan of controversial and challenging genre movies this extremely well researched and well written book cannot fail to enlighten and entertain. We learn that despite opinion at the time these movies did leave a mark and stimulate the creativity in up and coming directors, such as Eli Roth for example, whose love of Italian genre cinema sparked him into creating Hostel. Indeed, Hostel if released during the 1980’s would surely have become a famed Video Nasty!

While horror fans will undoubtedly enjoy the chapters on Halloween or Maniac, the author’s style will seduce you into reading about another type of genre you had not considered and by the end you will be heading to Amazon to order it on DVD!

However, take note, this is not a genre movie love fest with the author spouting plaudits with the films he has chosen, he is fearless in his criticism for some films and does not hold back, but at the same time he is astute enough to pinpoint and appreciate why they came to the fore in the first instance.

A clever and analytical foray into another side of cinema but most of all a hugely enjoyable read! An essential edition to your cinema library!

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