Cheesy, Sleazy, Mixed-Up Astro-Zombies – Book Review

cheazy sleazymixed-up astro-zombiesFringe film-making can be a fascinating subject, and certainly many of the subjects of Kirk Lodes’ book Cheesy, Sleazy, Mixed-Up Astro-Zombies: The 100 Worst Actors and Directors of All Time are deserving of greater critical attention. Unfortunately, this isn’t the book that brings a balanced look at the strengths and weaknesses of the filmmakers it covers.
Lodes is clearly influenced by MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 and shares a similar snarky attitude towards his subjects. Lodes has a easy to read style, and his choices are often apt (among his worst directors are Coleman Francis, Ray Dennis Steckler, Jerry Warren, Al Adamson, Jesus Franco, Bill Rebane, Larry Buchanan), but he also includes directors who have made entertaining and even accomplished films indiscriminately in the mix (e.g. Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Larry Cohen, and Monte Hellman among others).
Just what Lodes’ critical standards are, is not apparent in this book. Films are dismissed as boring, trashy garbage, with no further elucidation of just what it was about them that made Lodes render so harsh a judgment. Lodes covers lots of titles, but offers almost no details on any of the works he mentions. It is frequently not clear if Lodes has even seen all the films he condemns, and often if a filmmaker has made some bad films, all his films are assumed to be worthless as well.
Worse, some of Lodes’ information is technically inaccurate. As I covered extensively in my retrospective on LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS in
Cinefantastique, Corman’s 1960 farce took more than two days to shoot (principal photography – the scenes shot on sets – was completed in two days; the outdoor scenes took two additional weekends to complete). He also alleges that Corman wrote DR. HECKYLL AND MR. HYPE, when the film was actually written and directed by former Corman colleague Charles B. Griffith for Cannon Films, with no Corman involvement whatsoever.(Corman, of course, was involved in the New World Films Griffith directed, but not this one). Other misstatements call Lodes’ accuracy into serious question.
Additionally, Lodes sometimes falls prey to malapropisms. For example, he refers to a film’s “illegible plot” instead of “unintelligible plot,” which is what he appears to mean. For someone seeking a snide overview of dubious cinematic achievements, Lodes’ work could supply a surfeit of titles for their Netflix queue and some basic background on the performers and directors involved in their production, but for serious students of the cinefantastique, there is no first-hand information (none of the filmmakers were interviewed by the author) nor any genuine critical acumen to bring enlightenment concerning the darker corners of cinematic experience.
Cheesy, Sleazy, Mixed-Up Astro-Zombies: The 100 Worst Actors and Directors of All Time by Kirk J. Lodes (Publish America).

One Reply to “Cheesy, Sleazy, Mixed-Up Astro-Zombies – Book Review”

  1. Anyone who includes Roger Corman among the 100 worst directors doesn’t deserve to have a book published. Corman directed two of the greates horror films ever made: MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA. Not to mention the wonderful socially-concious film THE INTRUDER with William Shatner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *