Tag Archives: huh?

My Friend Hal Astell Has Two New Books Out

Hal Astell is an amazing friend and a person who knows more about movies and films than anyone else I know.  His peculiar field of study is the B-movie genre although his cinematic knowledge extends to the entire film industry.  You can find his site at:

http://www.apocalypselaterfilm.com/

These are the new books:

huh250 tura250

Hal Astell and his lovely wife Dee Astell in Jerome, Arizona for the Film Festival

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    Here are some comments from Hal when I asked him to give me information on the books to post here:

    Actually, the easiest bet for links would be to go to Apocalypse Later at http://www.apocalypselaterfilm.com/. I have both covers up at the top of the page, with artist details and links and Amazon links.

    There’s a decent amount of information on the Amazon pages too. They run $14.99 and $12.99, though Amazon have them on sale. I have copies for sale through my site as well.

    Here’s some quick background on each though. Please let me know if you need anything more.

    Huh? An A-Z of Why Classic American Bad Movies Were Made grew out of a series of reviews I wrote for Cinema Head Cheese (http://cinemaheadcheese.blogspot.com/).

    Originally I was just reviewing films that people have called ‘the worst movie of all time’ and having fun slating them, but gradually I got more serious (while still having fun) and started to discover some amazing reasons behind these films.

    I think the one that started to reshape the project was The Creeping Terror, which was a con job. The director never even intended to make a movie, just start one and abscond halfway through with the money. The film was finished by the financial backers of the piece, many of whom were in it. Then I started to add up reasons and the A-Z format came to mind as a framework.

    In the book I cover 26 films, dating from between 1932-1980, explaining why someone thought it was a good idea to make them. Some are big budget Hollywood productions, like Strange Interlude, with Clark Gable and Norma Shearer, an adaptation of a play built around a terrible gimmick. Some are microbudget movies, like Manos: The Hands of Fate, which was made for a bet. Some were real discoveries, like They Saved Hitler’s Brain, which added new unrelated footage to an older movie in order to pad out a TV timeslot. These films run the gamut of genres, eras and budgets.

    Velvet Glove Cast in Iron: The Films of Tura Satana is a lot more straightforward. It covers every film and every TV episode that actress Tura Satana was in, while providing a background to why she was so important. In my opinion, every movie of the last half century with a strong female lead owes a lot to her and what she did as Varla in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

    The covers are awesome, thanks to my wonderful artists. They were the most expensive part of production but they were worth every penny.

    The Tura cover is a deliberate take on the old men’s magazines, not porn but action mags. Usually there was a tough guy on the cover in a dominant pose, dominating everything around him. At his feet, there would be a scantily clad woman, an obvious damsel in distress. This is the same sort of thing but reversed: Tura is the dominant woman with a man in distress under her boot. She’s dressed in Varla’s outfit and the scene is reminiscent of the key scene early in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! where her rogue go go dancer fights an all-American boy after they race cars and leaves him dead in the dirt, before kidnapping his Gidget-esque girlfriend. While she’s an anti-hero, if any sort of hero at all, that scene is one of the most important feminist moment in films ever.

    The Huh? cover is a lot more simple. It’s just various characters from some of the films I cover in the book, all sharing a speech bubble that says, ‘Huh?’ as if they can’t understand how their movies were made either.

    By the way, I’m told that Amazon promotes books that reach fifty reviews. I’ll be going in and writing reviews for all the books I’ve bought from local authors (including yours) in the hope of getting to fifty. If you enjoy my books (or even if you don’t), it would be much appreciated if you would do the same.

    Take care,

    Hal Astell

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