Thursday, November 29, 2012


As popular a topic as “the death of print” may be, there’s still noteworthy on-paper contributions to Horror Fandom being made.  As a complete devotee to seminal rags like UncleBob Martin-era FANGORIA, Michael J. Weldon’s Psychotronic, and Chas Balun’s DEEP RED, I’m beyond picky with Horror and Exploitation related film magazines.  More than picky I’m perhaps disheartened, as most of the major mags are largely filled with what might as well be bought and sold ad space for what is ultimately mindless major studio garbage (in contrast, certainly a nod goes to many of the folks at Rue Morgue, who do a wonderful job).

A lot of folks buy the lie that innovation is no longer financially viable, and so it’s thrilling to see the voracious VHS virus that is LUNCHMEAT innovate the hell out of the stale contemporary magazine market.  It’s layout, style, mission, writing, and humor are completely its own, and Editor Josh Schafer seemingly without strain puts to rest the notion that watering down material makes for a better read.  It’s fun, original and genuinely fresh.

Instead of trying to ape the antics of other movie mags, LUNCHMEAT has created its own personal style of zine-like worship and research style.  They mostly cover VHS unavailable on DVD (a world that is indeed endless despite popular misconceptions), and related  phenomena.  Instead of covering "hot new" films (which as we all know are few and far between), LUNCHMEAT creates the subtext that they’re moving back through time, scouring the trash for tapes; coming up with mind-bending absurdities like “HAWK JONES”, a 1986 violent action film wherein
the entire cast is children pretending to be adults!  And, though many titles are joked about and poked fun at, LUNCHMEAT is still a truly upbeat endeavor - there’s an unbelievably heartfelt respect for so many of these films, and movies that are laughed off by most within the scene are discussed here for their historical importance and positive traits.  The excellent review of Penelope Spheeris’ oft-overlooked “DUDES” (issue 6 also features a great interview with highly talented but also-oft-overlooked actor Daniel Roebuck ) is high point.  Schafer writes:

“This film, while arguably a little uneven at times, is an absolutely unique entry in genre film and the voracious Videovore would do themselves good to implement this one into their VCR’s diet.  Not only because of the bright cast’s chemistry and consistently entertaining performances, but Spheeris’ ability to meld the aspects of a road movie, an off-beat buddy comedy and a classic revenge flick all into one is truly something special.  The laughs are abundant, the action’s exciting and the idea of a pair of once-passive  punks realizing that life’s about creating your own adventure makes DUDES a fulfilling and enjoyable ride.”

Well put!  I didn’t know anybody out there felt the same way I did about Spheeris’ DUDES.  Get your hands on Issue #6 and give these guys as much of your dough as you can -  Long live LUNCHMEAT!

-Mike Hunchback

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Even among the many sub-sects of record buyers, the Soundtrack Aficionado has for years been somewhat of a black sheep. Though there have been moments of hipness; in the 90’s labels like DAGORED and CRIPPLED DICK HOT WAX repackaged some painfully rare, mostly Italian, soundtrack cuts in the forms of high quality reissues and extremely cool compilations. Labels like these gave instant context for the inexperienced listener, and now composers like Bruno Nicolai and Piero Piccioni are familiar to a wide range of music fans of many different types.

Before that, there were labels like Cerberus Records with their legendary Ennio Morricone Film Score Society series, an unbelievably classy endeavor that issued some of the most astounding and rare soundtracks of the day, with the obvious overtone that it was completely a labor of love. Similarly labels like Cinema Records went above and beyond to contribute their fantastic Bernard Herrmann and Max Steiner records to the pantheon of essential soundtrack platters.

In recent years “the Soundtrack” has gained perhaps more traction than ever - plenty of music fans are aware of John Carpenter and Goblin, and thusly these artists are finally getting the respect they deserve. Though no one has yet offered that next major advance in soundtrack LP fandom - that is until Death Waltz Recording Co.’s deluxe edition of Fabio Frizzi’s score to Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi” hit record stores this year.

Death Waltz seems to be conscious of this record-buyer-meets-soundtrack-aficionado division, though it’s by no means a cash-in or a throwback. This is new territory they’re treading - all the titles are legitimately licensed, complete with text for the release by the composer. All the titles are pressed on high quality vinyl and remastered to excellence. Their releases also feel extremely fresh because they sport covers (delightfully uniform in their framing) designed by artists working currently that have personal affection for the subject matter. The result is covers cool enough to inspire many a casual record buyer to simply pick them up out of curiosity. And, as anyone can see by just glancing at their website, Death Waltz seems to be working significantly harder than any label in recent memory - by early next year Death Waltz will have released over a dozen soundtracks; each with a limited edition version.

 A very happy Mike Hunchback with the recently-arrived Halloween II and Halloween III Soundtrack LPs!

Label founder Spencer Hickman was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions for us:

How did your personal fascination of film soundtracks begin?

When I was 8, in the same year my dad bought me The Muppets album and Star Wars. I was obsessed with Star Wars and we went to see it like 13 times at the Gaumont in Birmingham, the soundtrack was this amazing double vinyl with a big fold out poster of the Rebels attacking the Death Star; it wasn't a still from the film but a beautifully rendered poster, I used to stare at the poster on my floor while I relived the film through my stereo. Those two albums right there are where it all started.

Death Waltz has also so far offered a varied array of material - brooding, dark, electronic scores from Carpenter and Howarth's "Escape from New York" and Fabio Frizzi's "Zombi" to the more modern scores of “Let the Right One In” and “Donnie Darko”- did you originally foresee Death Waltz as being so all-encompassing?

Yeah totally. I love music, why limit yourself? I was chatting to my friend Manish that writes for The Quietus and he said what he loved about the label was that we were doing new soundtracks and that people always moan that there is nothing new that’s classic anymore; which obviously is rubbish, there’s tons of new stuff I want to do. I always thought that if we make sure the quality of the package was good enough then people would trust us on titles that maybe they didn't know.

Were there any soundtracks that you had hoped to release that for one reason or another you won't be able to?

Texas Chainsaw Massacre - I know a few people have tried but there are so many rights issues that it's never going to happen.

With the unbelievably high level of quality that the label has been offering, it seems that your excellent reputation could garnish future soundtrack licensing beyond what you were capable of in the beginning. Any dream projects?

Oh wow thanks. We are already beyond what I had envisaged, I want the label to grow organically and I don’t want to only release horror movies soundtracks. Which is why I changed our tagline to 'the art of soundtracks'. I love movies and not just horror, I want us to become the label that composers come to and say 'I want DW to release this score'; I do want to start offering CD's too when licenses allow.

Would you ever release something that wasn’t a film soundtrack?

Tricky one, I'm not sure we could, maybe as an offshoot? I have an idea that I want to release a re-edit 12” featuring 4 tracks and have people in mind, but even then I'm not sure DW could release it.

ou’ve recently announced the next batch of titles that Death Waltz will release - The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue, Prince Of Darkness, Halloween II, Halloween III, They Live - anything else in the pipeline at the moment?

Yes, but not that I can talk about, you never know whose reading!

Does Death Waltz have an official US distributor?

At the moment our UK distributor ships to Forced Exposure, but Light In The Attic are going to be carrying them direct from September 1st.

And will you continue to offer subscriptions? How will that work for someone within the US like myself?

Yes we are carrying on with the sub, it upping to 200 due to the demand. Open to one and all no matter where you are. One thing I love about shipping releases is seeing where they are going; Russia, Turkey, etc., there is no discrimination at DW, haha!