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Fierce Anticipation: October 24-26, 2008


A blogumn by Ryan Dixon


The Original Faces of Death: 30th Anniversary Edition
Before the internet allowed us to watch footage of people being mauled by animals for free,  any aspiring video age Percival had to search high and low for quality smut, and there was no relic so highly prized as the Grail of gross, Faces of Death. Often shelved in the backrooms of those pre-Blockbuster video stores located in strip malls, grocery stores and along lonely roadsides, this mondo masterpiece was spoken of by those who had seen it in a hushed, foreboding tone reminiscent of Large Marge’s admonition to the hitchhiking Pee-Wee. A dark fate surely awaited anyone brave enough to press play. However, as the new 30th Anniversary DVD makes clear, aside from the rather pedestrian suicides, autopsies, and much deserved baby seal clubbing, the most fondly remembered scenes– everything from the eye-bleeding electrocution to that cute grizzly nibbling on a little foie gras d’ humain –were, alas, fake. In hindsight, the fact that a “Dr. Francis B. Gross narrated this film” should have been a red flag regarding its legitimacy. But like most of you, I too really wanted to believe–if only for a brief glimpse into the unfathomable Hellmouth very few of us will ever enter– that someone had actually shot footage of young women (surprisingly buxom, considering the supposed Third-world location) sacrificing a willing man, eating his flesh and engaging in an orgy where the corpse’s blood proved a far better lubricant than K-Y Jelly ever could.  In an age where unrelenting cruelty and violence is easily accessible both on our computer monitors and at any local multiplex, there is something magical about stepping into this not-so-long ago analog sideshow that returns you to a time when there were movies out there that you actually had to search for, at your own risk.
Now on DVD and Blue-Ray


Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith by Joe Ezterhas
Thanks to Joe Ezterhas, a generation of men will forever be more intimately familiar with Sharon Stone’s vagina than those of their own wives. It may come as a surprise then to learn that the estimable scribe of Showgirls, Basic Instinct and Flashdance has forsworn the money shot for the Mass. In his new book Crossbearer, Ezterhas chronicles his path from Hollywood Babylon to Ohio Catholicism. However, unlike many of his newly acquainted Christian-lit contemporaries, Ezterhas has the benefit of being a wicked good writer– for example, American Rhapsody, his delightful chronicle of the Clinton / Lewinsky scandal, reads like a literary threesome between Henry Miller, Bob Woodward and Hunter S. Thompson– and Crossbearer seems poised to step over other recent hardcore born-again memoirs by Brian Welch of Korn and Stephen Baldwin of the Baldwin Brothers to become the Speak, Memory of this fledgling genre. Recent Obama convert, Christopher Buckley, probably best summed up the memoir in his recent Sunday Times Book Review when he said, “Joe Eszterhas is God’s fool, all lit up in neon, and it’s quite the show. You will be appalled, you will be revolted, you will almost certainly go, Oy gevalt, but you won’t be bored.”
In Bookstores now.


Saw V
Like the Bush administration, one can only hope that Saw V is the last of its kind. Unlike Faces of Death, which celebrated the naughty thrill of seeing atrocities such as mustachioed suburbanites killing and eating the brain of a monkey with a certain joie de vivre, the Saw franchise–the Rosetta Stone of “torture porn” — is missing all traces of humor and fun. In fact, Saw and other films of its ilk have more in common with The Passion of the Christ than with Halloween or The Evil Dead. By its very name, “torture porn” forces the audience to become, like poor Mr. Ezterhas, cross bearers who must feel the pain of the horror as opposed to reaping enjoyment from observing it. If you ask me, having to watch any more films from this moribund sub-genre is the real torture.
In Theaters today