Monday, June 24, 2019

Shock Cinema

Shock Cinema magazine

The most recent issue (No. 56, Summer 2019) of Shock Cinema magazine just arrived. I got to thinking that a post about this magazine is long overdue, especially since I've been reading and subscribing to Shock Cinema for more than 15 years now.

[Subscription information is available here.]

Published by New Jersey resident Steven Puchalski (who grew up in Syracuse, New York), the magazine debuted in 1990, and continues to thrive. Shock Cinema is a quality magazine, printed on thick paper stock with black-and-white, high-res reproductions of movie posters, stills, DVD covers, and advertisements (Puchalski has assembled an immense personal library of film and TV advertisements). The magazine has plenty of advertisements for vendors of contemporary cult films.

Each issue features an Editorial by Puchalski; these editorials almost always are diatribes about contemporary politics, city living, the defects in modern U.S. society, reminiscences of Puchalski's younger days, etc. 

In many ways, these vitriol-steeped vignettes of misanthropy (which sometimes are laugh-out-loud funny) are the one of the best things about the magazine. Witness these remarks about the Post Office at Peter Stuyvesant Station in New York City, which (until 2014) Puchalski was obliged to patronize:

Mind you, no one will ever mourn the loss of the old Peter Stuyvesant Station, since it was arguably the worst fucking post office in all of New York City. Long lines, lost mail, and incompetent staff are typical for many post offices, but it was the insane package pick-up line that transformed this branch into its own unique circle of hell. With a minimum of two dozen people queued up at all times of the day and one weary postal employee manning that window, the average waiting time for a package was usually over an hour. 

[Needless to say, the advent of the Trump presidency in 2016 sent Puchalski into a new dimension of outrage.]

Issue 56 features this rant: 

I'd prefer to gripe about the more baffling and downright lazy aspects of modern society.....Uber, Lyft, Handy, Postmates - basically paying for 'gig economy' services that any halfway capable individual used to do for themselves - and don't get me started about 'Meal Kit Delivery Services' like Home Chef and Blue Apron, for dumb-asses unable to cope with the torment of grocery shopping....And sorry....if you're 25 and still live with your parents, promptly move the fuck out.

The contents of each issue of Shock Cinema feature interviews - mainly with supporting cast members, but occasionally with a leading man / woman - with actors and directors who were active in the 60s, 70s, and 80s (more rarely, in the 90s). 

Needless to say, Shock Cinema also features reviews, with a two-column per-page page layout within which  smaller graphics are fitted. The font is small and cramped - this is a magazine that you have to sit down and read, rather than idly flip through. Puchalski provides the majority of the reviews, with some assistance from a panel of contributors that includes his wife, Anna Puchalski, and the well-known British author Kim Newman (Anno Dracula, The Man from the Diogenes Club), among others. 

Puchalski's reviews can feature the same sarcasm as his editorials, and many are laugh-out-loud funny. I find them a welcome change from reading the pompous, self-indulgent reviews of contemporary movies by The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday and Hank Stuever.

As the front cover states, the magazine covers 'cult movies, arthouse oddities, drive-in swill, and underground obscurities', so these reviews cover not only U.S., but foreign films, made during the interval from 1950 - 1995. While coverage of feature films predominates, TV movies get attention, too. 

Most of the contemporary film reviews deal with ultra-low-budget, direct-to-DVD features. 

Shock Cinema also reviews books dedicated to the topic of 'grindhouse swill'.

Summing up, if you're a Baby Boomer, then you could do yourself a service by subscribing to Shock Cinema. A year's worth of 4 issues is only $20, and you're sure to see something that will take you back to those glory days when Scott Baio would star in an ABC Afterschool Special titled Stoned...........!

1 comment:

Sonic Syrup said...

Shock Cinema is a great zine, and reminds me of the classic blaxploitation zine Badazz MoFo published back in the 90's.