Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hammer's House of Horror

If you are a fan of horror and grew up in the 1970s, you remember Hammer.  It was a film studio in England that made legendary horror films starring the likes of Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and others.  The films were imaginative.  The posters moreso.

The Art of Hammer showcases some of the studios best posters, many of them from foreign countries, all in wonderful color.  Yeah, it is expensive, but it is worth every cent of it.

I received the book as a Secret Santa gift, which blew my mind.  My Amazon wish list was accessed, much to the person's horror I'm sure, and this seemed like the safest bet for the workplace.  (Can't blame my SS elf for that.)  I devoured the thing, savoring every film title and all the wonderful pieces.

Horror films aren't the only movies covered, either.  Some of Hammer's epics and comedies are also featured, though it is the horror posters that show the most imagination and are the most interesting to examine.  Books like this make me pity the reader who would download this for a Kindle.  You just don't get the scope of art in such a small space.  (This is an incredibly oversized hardcover.)  It needs to be seen in the flesh to understand the posters' hypnotic power.

I actually place this on my shelf with the art books instead of my film books, as it is less about the movies and more about the artistic side of film promotion.  It is a valuable resource when it comes to film, but make no mistake -- the draw here is the art and rarely-seen pieces.

Save for it if you must, but get this as soon as humanly possible.  There have been plenty of books written about the studio, but this gives you the perspective of the audience who saw these posters and made a decision whether or not to see the film being advertised.  These works were cutting edge for the time and make you long for the day when artistic choices meant more than demographics when it came to promoting a film.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift, but not for review.  Clicking on a link may earn me a small commission.  Avoiding the horrors of Hammer is a danger to one's health.

Realizing the Impossible

As part of the Friends of AK Press program I received a copy of Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority, a book whose time had come.

Editors Josh MacPhee and Erik Reuland have compiled interviews and essays with artists of all kinds involved in anti-authoritarian movements throughout the globe.  What follows is an in-depth and interesting look at the history of this type of art and where it is at today.  Printmaking, video, graffiti, puppet theatre and more is covered in its pages, along with plenty of great photographs.

It is easy for a book of this type to become nothing but a cheerleader for anti-authoritarian and anarchist art.  It's not.  In fact, one of the best pieces takes the activist films to task for be substandard pieces of work that fail to hold an audience simply because they don't do what is proven to work.  It is a critical and insightful piece that needs to be read by anyone involved in activist film.  This isn't the only piece that challenges the norm, either.  Throughout the book are people questioning the form, meaning and effect of the art they and others do.  That's what makes this a book well worth checking out for anyone interested in the arts, subversive or otherwise.

The end of the book is a series of essays examining one subject or another in dept.  Of note, there are two great pieces dealing with Haymarket and culture jamming.  Those two works alone make this worth its cover price.  Any serious student of culture will want to read these.  There will be plenty to argue about, but also plenty with which you will agree.

If the book has one fault it is that it is too short.  You know this has merely scratched the surface of what is out there.  It could've been twice its size and still run into the same problem, however.  What is needed is new volumes, and while I don't know if that is something AK Press is planning, I do hope someone does it as this type of art is important in its own right and needs to examined by those involved and those who are witnesses.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  I received this book as part of the Friends of AK Press program.  It was not sent to me to review, but I did it anyway.  If you don't know what that is, go to the link.  Take that, FTC.  Also, clicking on a link may earn me a small commission.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kindle News

I've put another short story up for Kindle.  A Dead Friend is now available for under a buck!  Wot a bargain!  It is a fairly tame horror story from me, but my next piece should fix that.

The next thing I'm putting up on Kindle will be the cannibal manuscript.  I have had with a publisher for over a year, and the publisher has flaked ... big time.  So I am taking it back and putting it up on Kindle while I look for a traditional publisher. 

I have probably over a hundred short stories I can put up on Kindle (I may bundle some into a collection), and several novels.  It looks like this is the route I'm going to take. 

It will be a little while before the manuscript is up, as I have to do some reformatting, but I will announce it as always.  I'm hoping I can get the cover right, too, as I have the perfect photo I took a few years ago.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  Clicking on the link will earn me a small commission, and give you a creepy short story should you decide to pay for it.