16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2006
I remember the year, if not the month and day, when I became hopelessly hooked on "trash cinema". It was sometime during the Summer of 1986 when, out of boredom, I decided to watch "Spawn of the Slithis" on the "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" midnight movie show. I couldn't believe what I was seeing!! How could I have been missing out on this great stuff for so many years?
Since then I've made it my mission in life to watch as many of these "underground" classics as possible, i.e., without getting divorced; everything from silly TROMA splatterfests to "subversive" spaghetti westerns. Naturally, this gives me a licence to bore my friends and co-workers with my latest discoveries (every week), but they tolerate me pretty well.
I've always had a tough time, however, deciding what to rent or buy next; and those masive paperback video guides by Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert were of limited use to a geeky, twisted son-of-a-bitch like me. I've relied mostly upon the kindness and patience of video store owners and passing strangers.
But now, here it is! In addition to being a former video store owner, Scott Phillips is a sucessful screenwriter and director ("Drive", "The Stink of Flesh", "Science Bastard") who is eminently qualified to dish the dirt on trashy gems such as "Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park" and "Shriek of the Mutilated"; two of my all-time favorites. His cinematic knowledge is STAGGERING, and all of his reviews are funny as Hell, and often heartwarming to boot. For the most part, he concentrates on "overlooked" classics of the 1960's through 1990's, but his takes on selected mainstream oddities like "Porkys" and "Xanadu" are howlingly funny! His love of the art form and the moviemaking process shines through on every page.
This could not have come at a better time for me! At my (middle) age, I was beginning to think that I'm a "lost cause" because I remember kooky characters like Bert Convy (that swingin' hepcat), or that I'm the only guy my age who has a crush on Fairuza Balk. Now I feel better!
This book should be required reading for all film students. Please, Mr. Phillips, keep it up - we want more!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2006
It almost doesn't matter what this book is about because the writing is just so fun to read. Scott Phillips is a low-budget filmmaker reviewing other people's low-budget films, so you really get an insider's perspective from someone who has seen a LOT of movies. This would make a great stocking stuffer for anti-Hallmark Chrismakkah friends and loved ones. I would prefer to give it 13 stars but 5's as high as they go.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2006
This book of video and movie reviews covers some classic and some long-forgotten so-trashy-they're-awesome flicks. I had heard of a lot of them, but there are many more that, after reading about them, I'm definitely going to have to find somewhere! Even the reviews of the mainstream movies are pretty hilarious.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2009
I think this book is definitely a must have for any "trash cinema" aficionado. Perhaps it comes down to personal preference, but I felt like I shared similar tastes with the author as far as the genres of the films are concerned. He also breaks down each film with the BEST scale for rating movies I've ever encountered. It's actually a two part scale that does a very effective job of ranking movies as Good, Bad, or So-Bad-They're-Good. Most rating systems I've come across consists of only one scale, (0-5 stars, 4 bones, etc.) which makes it difficult if you were trying to recommend a movie to a friend that might not share the same taste or have different expectations of the movie. The author does a fantastic job of differentiating between the "Good" movies and movies that are so laughably bad, you could have a grand ol' time watching it with a group of buddies. (Preferably with lots of alcohol going around!) Very easy and entertaining read, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author doesn't try to "talk down" to the reader from a film snob's point-of-view. (i.e. through the use of complex textbook terms that only a film student would understand) Instead, while reading this book, I felt like I was just having a great conversation with an hilarious old friend I've known for ages that happens to be a REAL fan of "sleazy and cheesy" movies. Highly recommended!!!
on August 29, 2014
Even though I run a website devoted to films that are described in this book, it is still an enjoyable look at films that are not widely seen, but should be. Scott Phillips doesn't take the films too seriously, which is just the way it should be. A great softcover book that should satisfy fans of films that are off the beaten track.
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I love a good "bad" movie, though I'm not really sure of the exact quality that makes a movie so-bad-it's-good. In part, it has to be a genre film, typically horror, kung-fu, action or science fiction. Usually, it's a low budget movie with cheesy sets and hammy acting that never really aspires to be anything other than what it is. I don't think Scott Phillips has much of a definition for these movies, either, but it's clear from his book, Unsafe on Any Screen, that he likes them.
Unfortunately, while Phillips's affection for these films is clear, and his writing is decent enough, this book is flawed by its utterly random nature. The book could almost just as easily be called "A Whole Bunch of Movies I've Seen" because beyond that, there's little rhyme or reason to what he's reviewed. They're not even all "bad" movies or even obscure ones.
For the most part, these films are from the `60s and `70s, at the height of the exploitation films that were big in the drive-ins at the time. As he notes, this was an era when films weren't all pre-booked: sometimes, if popular, they'd be held over for additional weeks, but it was a survival of the fittest (or most entertaining) world. Chances are, if you want to read about a specific film from that era, Phillips will not have it; this book doesn't even try to be a complete list.
On the other hand, the strength of the book is that it can give you ideas of new movies to see, based on his enthusiastic (and rarely negative) reviews. His quality scale, involving apes and bourbon, is inconsistent, but changes are if he rates it low on the ape scale (indicating low quality) and high on the bourbon scale (including the amount you need to drink to start enjoying it), it's probably worth avoiding. Not all bad movies are so-bad-they're-good; some are awful no matter what. For movie watching ideas, this is a decent book; as a reference text, however, it misses the mark.