09 July, 2007

Bring Back EUROPEAN TRASH CINEMA!

One of my favorite issues of the long gone, but not forgotten, "European Trash Cinema." But then they were all favorite issues. Craig Ledbetter's legendary publication which ran 16 volumes and 2 Special Editions. Having written one of those SE's [on the late Riccardo Freda] and contributed several reviews to Issue #12, seen above, I'm hardly an objective observer. I do want to salute Craig for being a terrific editor and inspiration. All its readers and writers will join that salute. In July 2007 it seems like it all happened 100 years ago, or yesterday...

As the 1990's faded so did ETC, and something called the Internet happened, or at least sucked me into its vortex. I have all the old issues and consult them often, if only for a warm glow of nostalgia. I wish it could have gone on forever. Or at least I sometimes wish I could go back in time. But I haven't invented that machine... yet.

And now The Rant: If we can't bring back "European Trash Cinema" then let's bring back European Trash Cinema. I mean the term. I want to know who the hell came up with that unfortunate replacement we now know as Eurocult, or Euro Cult. I HATE that term. I cringe every time I read, which is often. And I HATE to admit that I've used it myself. In the first place anyone who knows me will tell you I am NOT a member of any cult or not the cultist type. The word "cult" always conjures up images of Jonestown or satanic rituals to me. It's probably useful as a marketing hook for DVD companies and a thread title for message boards. It's not for me, though. It's not me. I am an individual. I've always thought of it as a group of individuals tentatively linked by the films, the posters, the music, the faces of the actors; not as a cult grouped in some dank catacomb waiting for the National Guard to burn them out with flamethrowers.

We are now living in an age where Jess Franco alone is a DVD industry, an international one. And despite what you've heard all the important European titles have not come out on DVD.
I mean European Trash Cinema. Or just Eurotrash if fine. This will be the first of several blogs planned to give you a chance to think about what you are not seeing going on in popular culture right now, what's not on the shelves at Best Buy, and why it's not there.

In the meantime: Bring Back European Trash Cinema!

7 comments:

Cinebeats said...

I love Ledbetter's European Trash Cinema and still have a few ragged issues myself, but I don't particularly like the term "trash" or "cult."

The term "trash" seems to lesson a film's value and make it unworthy of serious consideration.

The term "cult" just sounds plain wrong as you pointed out.

This new century needs a new language. I really think it's time to invent a new term.

Anthony said...

Yes! I completely agree and have been thinking much the same thing (literally about Craig's ETC mag) over the past week. I'm not sure if Craig has or ever will get the kudos that are owed him for his efforts regarding fine genre cinema - his early ASIAN TRASH CINEMA and outstanding ETC issues all stoked the fire which I can now see visible amongst the fans, collectors and distributors here today.

It's also an unhappy state of affairs that we can have 3 x releases of DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (a good film and third time lucky with the recent DVD release I agree) but none whatsover in Region 1 for some several hundred 'obscure' Italian, French and German titles that really deserve release, and a browse through Craig's ETC catalogue of tapes confirms this completely. I miss Craig's entertaining enthusiasm and agree that Eurotrash cinema was the original and better term for all this.

Tom Mather said...

I suppose Eurotrash is more restrictive than Eurocult

With the latter you can move from the Istanbul of The Castle of Fu Manchu to that of L'Immortelle and see the birds of both Snakewoman and Hotel des Invalides.

The cinema of Franco, Bava, Godard, Resnais, Franju, Feuillade and Fulci is one great continuum.

You are doing grand work Robert

Kind regards

Tom

Mirek said...

I admire the no-nonsense earthiness of the term "euro-trash," and I do think that many European genre films can easily fall in under the banner of "trash," but overall I'm against the term as being an identifier of all euro genre product. "Euro-cult" is a polite way to identify a group of pictures without conjuring up a value judgment, like "trash" does. I wouldn't want any of the films I care about labeled as "trash," even though I realize that for fans "trash" is a badge of honor and respect, and doesn't carry the negative connotations the word would have to an "outsider."

That said, ETC was a great and important zine in the recognition of euro-trash/euro-cult and its study.

Robert Monell said...

Cinebeats: You may have a point about a new term possibly being needed. From my critical perspective, which is far from mainstream, Eurotrash doesn't lessen the value of the films but enhances it. But mainstream critics often dismiss them as "Eurotrash." They are certainly European, mostly B- genre pictures from the past, but not all of them fit that description. But Eurocult just turns me off and in some ways also lessens the values and categorizes fans in a certain way. Is TROG really European Trash Cinema? Or Eurocult? Or just a bad mainstream B horror film from the UK [And I have to admit I actually bought the recent DVD!]? Can one categorize it in the same grouping as LA BELLE CAPTIVE, LES YEUS SANS VISAGE and VAMPYRES?

Anthony: I so agree with your point about doing the same titles over and over. Sometimes it's a good thing to have a quality edition. But I don't have the disposable income to endlessly upgrade every title in have. And won't HD or Blu-ray or some new technology demand further equipment, hardware/software/content investments. Look what happend to LD's and they did what seemed definitive editions of some Eurotrash titles(MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY, comes to mind). And now the medium itself is obselete! Where are the definitve DVD's of THE HORRIBLE DR HICHCOCK, the films of Alain Robbe Grillet (the recent LA BELLE CAPTIVE already needs upgrading), a R1 DEATH LAID AN EGG (a CL favorite), and many, many others?
Tom, thanks for the compliment and I like your concept of the great cine-contiuum. Of course, US mainstream movies have always incorporated Eurotrash or general "cult" movie material, as we witnessed with the recent GRINDHOUSE episode. And isn't Tarantino planning a big budget remake of Enzo G. Castellari's INGLORIOUS BASTARDS? I don't know if that's a good idea.
Mirek, I don't know if a "polite" term is needed. I think polite or culturally/politically correct terms can be misleading and cause just as many problems as the terminology they are trying to replace or rectify. It's a term of endearment for me, not a put down. I note that some DVD labels are using the term "Eurocult" and some have used "Eurotrash." I think one has to develop one's own critical perspective. I can enjoy TROG as well as 2001 in certain ways. WEEKEND and ISLA, THE WICKED WARDEN both end with scenes of cannibalism, but I don't have to reject one to embrace the other. I can watch and respond to both. I appreciate both, but for very different reasons.

David Zuzelo said...

Craig contributes to the Eurotrash Paradise Yahoo group and is easily one of the most influential people in my film life. He has been posting up his unpublished giallo book slowly but surely in our archives also.
As for "trash" and the use of the term, I love it. I can't say I have a particularly scholarly approach to film as a whole, and "trash" is a cool term that describes the love I have of using a movie for fun and then balling it up and sharing that enthusiasm with others. Euro"cult" feels hipper than thou for me, so I don't feel attached to it.

Bob Sargent of Videooze is also a moderator (with myself) over at the ETP. We would LOVE to see more Franco fans drop in sometime...

scott said...

If not for ETc, i'd have never furthered my Franco interest back in the 90s.