Book Review: OFFBEAT

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

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Review: Offbeat / Author: Various / Publisher: Headpress / Release Date: March 4th

From the good people of Headpress, who specialise in counter culture and transgressive cinema books, comes this collection of essays and reviews of the forgotten and overlooked elements of British cinema. So, rather than Merchant-Ivory productions, insipid Hugh Grant vehicles, Cockney shoot 'em ups or even usual suspects The Wicker Man and Peeping Tom, we get an insight into such gems as The Black Panther, G.B.H., Bloody Kids and The Touchables.

It's not all low-budget and indie films either. There's plenty on offer from the big studios, films that for reasons of taste or changing fashions and attitudes have gone neglected since their release.

Delights such as The Strange World of Planet X, The Earth Dies Screaming, Ghost Story and Killer's Moon as well as Starburst favourites, Twisted Nerve and Goodbye Gemini (we covered both in issue 379) all find a home within these lavish 400+ pages. Some of the more obscure Hammer films, like Never Take Sweets From A Stranger and Cash On Demand are re-evaluated. The reviews are surprisingly in-depth, with the emphasis on informing the reader rather focusing just on synopsis and opinion, and with some of the rare films on offer this information is priceless.

There are absorbing essays on such diverse strains as British sexploitation king David Sullivan, lunatic asylums in cinema and the Children's Film Foundation. A fascinating piece on the demise of the short film as supporting feature jogged more than a few memories, and is illustrated with the recollections of the book's contributors, among whom are Kim Newman, David Kerekes, Darrell Buxton and BBFC examiner David Hyman. The book is easy to dip into to, but hard to put down and you will no doubt have several titles to add to your must see list after reading.

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