Book Review: Ad Nauseam by Michael Gingold

One from the to read pile…

Ad Nauseam by Michael Gingold

Book: I think I’ve always hoarded… I mean, ‘collected’ horror stuff. As a kid in the 70s I had toys and collected Famous Monsters Of Filmland, which graduated into Fangoria (and its many competitors like Samhain, Horrorfan, Fear and their ilk) and towards the end of that decade, VHS tapes, which became DVD and Bluray, and video games, and records, and comics…

…gawd, my collecting is exhausting!

One thing that is always nice to see though is that there is others like you and it would appear that Michael Gingold is cast of a similar die to me. Gingold is a well known staple of the horror movie fandom, being a former editor in chief of the aforementioned Fangoria, he’s written, starred in, directed and produced movies, and has written several books, such as The Frightfest Guide to Monster Movies and this book Ad Nauseam.

The basic idea of this book is to show the reader the newspaper advertisements for horror movies of the 80s, but I’ll come back to that. The source of these clippings is a young Gingold’s obsession with cutting adverts from newspapers and collecting them, a story he tells in the book’s Introduction, and I admit to understanding that completely because as a kid I collected every single Star Wars clip from the newspapers so I could scrapbook my own Star Wars comics. Gingold’s obsession has resulted in a beautiful book documenting, quite specifically, the advertising campaigns used in New York City, and some other places when the newspaper strike occurred, for horror films during the 80s.

After an introduction by Gingold, the book is broken down year-by-year with an amazing collection of amazing ads, and a sidebar which introduces the films the ads represent, and a selection of some scathing and sometimes witty reviews from the ‘film review’ section of those papers.

I really need to up my nastiness game in movie reviews to match the levels that these people reach! They are most certainly, the Super Saiyan’s of bitchiness!

The final part of this book is a section called ‘The Art of the Sell’ which features and interview with Terry Levene, the president of genre movie based distributor Aquarius Releasing, the man who spearheaded so many of the genre films presented in this book’s advertising campaigns, including art, tag lines and even the subtlety of changing European director’ s names from this like ‘Lucio Fulci’ to an easier to digest (for the perhaps more prejudiced times of the 80s) ‘Louis Fuller’.

This gentlemen seems to be like a Roger Corman styled version of an advertising executive, and much like Roger Colman’s ‘boobs are the best special effects, Levene claims ‘ you’ve got to have blood, action, gore and above all, women!’

I honestly, as a massive fan of 80s horror, can’t express just how amazing and interesting this book is, though I must say that the subject matter being ‘New York City newspaper advertisements of the horror films of the 80s’, which is an incredibly small focus and probably not entirely for everyone. Rue Morgue magazine has presented the book beautifully and it was presented in a manner which was perfect on the eye.

Score: ****

Cinema Sex Sirens by Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer

One from the re-read pile…

Cinema Sex Sirens

I have to say I love books about films almost as much as I like films themselves. I love stretching out on the lounge, feet up, beverage in one hands and a good book in the other. The content of the book is important though: it has to be about an aspect of cinema I love, it has to cover a genre I love, it has to be informative, and maybe a decent amount of photos or illustration. The book will get bonus points if it mainly deals with cinema of the 60s, y0s and 80s. What really makes a book special is if it fulfils all this criteria. Cinema Sex Sirens does exactly that… ok, it’s doesn’t cover the 80s, but I’ll let that slide.

Cinema Sex Sirens is written by Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer, co-producers of magazine and web site Cinema Retro, which celebrates the cinema of the 60s and 70s: their claim being that most of the best films ever made come from these decades, and who am I to argue? These gentlemen have been responsible for other film related books like The Essential James Bond and The Great Fox War Movies, not to mention the fact that Worrell produced most of the documentaries on the MGM releases of the James Bond films!

his book, Cinema Sex Sirens, takes a look at the women present in films through the 60s and 70s, and how their sexuality evolved from the pin-up styles of earlier starlets like Betty Grable and Lana Turner and how these beautiful women were used as selling points for the film’s success. These women are also a precursor to the 80s scream queens and beyond, but in general were a bit more demure and less likely to drop undies on screen. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I will point out that a gift is more exciting before it is unwrapped: it’s that whole Schrodinger’s Cat thing, I guess.

The cover has a beautiful selection of the women of this period and is styled in a classic, almost Brady Bunch, series of windows, featuring lovlies like Sophia Loren, Ann-Margret and Jane Fonda, and boldly claims an introduction by Sir Roger Moore. Remember him? He was one of the James Bonds’. Upon reading that doesn’t really amount to much other than him claiming that he didn’t sleep with most of the women he worked with, which is a shame when you consider some of the downright gorgeous things with which he shared a fake bed.

The authors introduce our ladies with a beautiful picture of Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks, an example of how modern TV and cinema can still do voluptuous and demure when they want to, and discusses the lives of the studio employed star, and how they have become likes goddesses in comparison to the media whores of today, who are regularly seen in such gossip rags as Who and NW snorting cocaine off the back of some farm animal that they have just screwed for five dollars. It looks at how these women were taught grace, poise, deportment and etiquette and how everyday saw them dressed like they were at the Academy Awards, instead of picking their noses in sweatpants whilst buying pregnancy tests from a midnight to dawn convenience store.

The book is laid out in 3 main sections based on their locations, each which have an introduction, a series of bios on the bigger names of the subset, and a round-up of those who were still great, but not great enough to get their own full section due to how well known they were. The three sections are “Hollywood or Bust”, which looks at the sirens of the Americas (like Raquel Welch, Angie Dickinson, and many others not to mention subsections on Russ Meyers Ladies, The Drives In Gals and the hard hitting babes of Blaxploitation); “The Continentals” which looks at the exciting euro babes likes Ursula Un-dress… I mean, Andress, Claudia Cardinale, Anita Ekberg (my favorite), Sylvia Kyrstal, and a subsection on Giallo Girls, and finally “Made In Britain: Brit Glamour”, featuring Susan George, Valerie Leon, Caroline Munroe and of course, Ingrid Pitt (obviously the Hammer ladies could have a whole book just on their own, and they do in Marcus Hearn’s Hammer Glamour, another must have for cinema beauty fans). There is also a final section called “Sex Sells: The Art of the Movie Poster” which is an interesting, albeit brief look at how cleavages and legs have been used to sell films.

This book is a great tome for those interested in the films of this era, and if you are reading this site, or a fan of Hammer, Corman or Meyers films, you’ll find something in this book. It is photo heavy, which usually means ‘light on text and information’ but this book isn’t! The authors share a great deal of information, even though they are career and vocation overviews rather than in depth, hard hitting exposes of the actresses. I enjoyed this book and will no doubt refer to it regularly.

Score: ****