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GODS IN SPANDEX: A SURVIVOR’S ACCOUNT OF EIGHTIES CINEMA OBSCURA
By SUZANNE DONAHUE, MIKAEL SOVIJARVI (Succubus Press; 2007)

A sequel to the well received (and now extremely difficult to find) seventies-sploitation anthology GODS IN POLYESTER. GODS IN SPANDEX is a similarly formatted compilation that focuses on obscure exploitation films from the 1980s. YOUNG WARRIORS, THE DEVONSVILLE TERROR, NIGHT ANGEL, ASSAULT OF THE KILLER BIMBOS and quite a few others are discussed in these pages, which consist of recollections by the directors and stars of the films in question.

     As the book’s compilers Suzanne Donahue and Mikael Sovijarvi make clear in their introduction, the freewheeling era of no-budget moviemaking covered in this book is gone forever. Nor is that era discussed much, seeing as how most of the films in question, as Donahue and Sovijarvi also concede, are somewhat lacking in quality. Thus, this book is a valuable resource for anyone with an interest in eighties-sploitation cinema; quite simply, you won’t find these stories told anywhere else.

     Among the contributors are Australia’s Rolf de Heer, who writes about the ordeal of filming his debut film ENCOUNTER AT RAVEN’S GATE; actor Richard Harrison, who reminisces about the innumerable crappy movies--NINJA THUNDERBOLT, DARK MISSION, EMPIRE OF THE DARK, etc--he appeared in during the eighties; the late Jamaa Fanaka, who provides an in-depth recounting of the making of PENITENTIARY II, which was apparently “the victim of the worst distribution strategy by a distribution company in the history of cinema”; Mike Gray, who gives us the lowdown on his sci fi no-budgeter WAVELENGTH, whose ending directly foreshadowed that of John Carpenter’s STARMAN (and might have led to Gray producing the STARMAN TV series); rock musician E.J. Curcio, who recalls his first acting experience in HARD ROCK ZOMBIES; Kenneth J. Hall, who contributes a lengthy reminisce about directing EVIL SPAWN, which he concludes “should be regarded as a lesson in things to be avoided!”; Stephen Sayadian, who admits he was amazed at the many positive reviews his cult film DR. CALIGARI received; and director Eric Marciano and actress Lisa Zane, who dish about making the underground epic THE AGE OF INSECTS.

     The book loses focus in parts, particularly in a couple lengthy tributes to Hy Pyke, a supporting player in films like LEMORA and THE FIRST NUDIE MUSICAL who was featured quite prominently in GODS IN POLYESTER, and apparently died as the present book was being prepared. Still, GODS IN SPANDEX is an absolute must for the five so readers out there interested in the production and distribution of some really obscure eighties films.  

     

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