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Book Review: Shock Festival by Stephen Romano

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Written by Fantasma el Rey

B-movie nut/screenwriter Stephen Romano has put together a nifty 356-page color book salute to  “101 of the strangest, sleaziest, most outrageous movies you’ve never seen” of the late 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s from an alternative universe. He along with comic artist/film designer Tim Bradstreet (Hellblazer) and film actor/director Thomas Jane provide good back stories, interviews, and excellent poster art. Drawing it all together to bring forth and create interest in films possibly lost to the sands of time or known only to cult fanatics and monster-tattooed freaks. And that’s only one story contained within these horror-filled pages of wonder and dread.

Romano writing is easy to read and makes the subject appealing for those that may not have a big interest in such movies. For those of us that dig this whacked-out, creepy, over-the-top, oddball “art,” the book is fascinating and reads at a quick pace. The pages are filled with photos and reprints of the posters that Romano has plastered all over his office walls, desk, ceiling, and, I believe, floor. He includes pictures of the office and his living room to verify that it is indeed plushed out so. The photos interject perfectly while not blocking or disrupting the text. The subject matter is kept at a digestible length as said photos spur you on to the next page. I would call it a page-turner but as I received an electronic copy the “book” kept me scrolling down to the next page.

The book covers too much material and way too many people to mention them all but a few names that stuck out and are repeated time and again include a particular Roc Benson (who starred in many of his own films as well as wrote, directed, and produced them) while a bunch of others where produced by Jayne Juanita Chance. Many of the chosen flicks star a dashing young man named Scott “Jetskie” Michelle along with the super-hot Natalya “Natalie” Ustinov. Some of these films I want to watch for her alone, well along with the fact that these films have interesting names that span many genres.

Popular genres range from space epics a la Star Wars to slashers and zombies pics right alongside cops, gangsters, monsters, mutants, barbarians (think Conan), bad girls exposed, and of course blaxploitation. I won’t even mention the titles of the last category but from some of the others we have great ones like Starfire and Raygun, Shark Hunters, The Wrong Idea, and for westerns with a twist we have Judge Blackheart and my personal favorite Nunslinger. That’s right, they did her wrong and she’s after an eye for an eye. I must find these films, I must, I must. Seriously. Wait, wait! I left out Lone Star Living Dead Axe Maniac Showdown. How could I forget that one? It’s like the father of them all. Zombies and axes; crazy shit I tell ya.

Anyway, ghoulies and creepy sorts, if gory, racy, kick-ass monster art is what you’re wanting to see and read about then go out and hunt up Stephen Romano’s Shock Festival. You won’t be disappointed with its “over 600 exclusive images including still photos and other rare memorabilia.”

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