Zine Reviews By Mike White. Streetcleaner #6—$1 or 3 stamps—(1515 N Town East Blvd, Ste 138-146, Mesquite, TX 75151)Sure, it may be thin (fourteen pages) and kind of primitive (ye olde copy machine) but that just adds to the charm of Dymon Enlow’s movie review zine...

Streetcleaner #6—$1 or 3 stamps—(1515 N Town East Blvd, Ste 138-146, Mesquite, TX 75151)
Sure, it may be thin (fourteen pages) and kind of primitive (ye olde copy machine) but that just adds to the charm of Dymon Enlow’s movie review zine. That’s all that’s here, folks; straightforward movie reviews. Not a lot of glitz but there doesn’t need to be as the writing is strong enough to make this well worth a buck!

Besides the writing, the thing that stands out about Streetcleaner to me is the variety of films that are reviewed from absolute gut-wrenching garbage like Zombie Ninjas (AKA Bangers) to classics like Camille to art-house hits like Shall We Dance? Good stuff!

Badazz MoFo #3—$4—(PO Box 40649, Portland, OR 97240-0649)
Heck, I’ve talked about doing a feature article and reviews of my favorite blaxploitation flix and it seems that the majority of movie zines out there have done a "Special Blaxploitation Issue." After reading David Walker’s Badazz MoFo, I’ll never put pen to paper now! It puts anything I’d have to say on the subject to shame! Walker’s got the cahones to delve into not only Blaxploitation or African-American pop culture in general but a full range of well-researched and entertaining topics.

Featuring a great collection of contributors, the issue that I last picked up had interviews with Jim Brown and Fred Williamson (two of the most prolific actors in the Blaxploitation "genre"), an article about Black comicbook characters, a feature on some of the most ass-kickingest actors that have ever graced the screen (including Toshiro Mifune, John Amos, Humphrey Bogart, Ernie Hudson, and Jesus!), as well as a whole host of great film reviews. Check out the reprint of David’s review of Truck Turner—I couldn’t have said it any better myself!

Thick and juicy—I can’t wait to see the next ish and I’m scraping my quarters together to buy some back issues too!

Counteroid Fanzine #1—$3—(PO Box 36401, Baltimore, MD 21286)
It was only a matter of time before modern day Renaissance man Skizz Cyzyk tried his hand at an entertainment zine. Just like everything else Skizz is into (movies, festivals, music, photography, et cetera); it rocks!

Gestating for a number of years, Counteroid feels dated at times (featuring an article on the ’96 New York Underground Film Festival) but its overall hipness is timeless. Counteroid reflects its creator in its mix of interviews and stories on indie filmmakers and musicians. Also included are some great stories by Big Dave Cawley (The King of Men) and Atomic TV’s Tom Warner (Man About Town).

I’m not sure if there’ll be another Counteroid anytime soon since Skizz is about the busiest guy I’ve ever known so snatch up this first one while you’ve got a chance.

Fright X #9—$3—(407 Lancaster Ave, Lancaster, PA 17603-9923)
I bought this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink magazine because of the cheap marketing gimmick on the front cover—a picture of John Waters holding a scratch-n-sniff box of popcorn. This mag is slick as shit and maybe a little too slick for its own good. Reading the dang blasted thing gives me a headache as the type is about four points hight and I keep flipping past "articles" because they look remarkably like ads.

I really shouldn’t say anything bad about the effusive Fright X since they seem to be unable to say a bad word about anything they cover. But, hell, I’ll do it anyway.

Fright X really irked me in that any feature-length article is invariably "Continued On Page Whatever" which I find to be one of the most annoying things a magazine can do! Another source of umbrage is that this magazine obviously has a budget but doesn’t seem to want to pay a proofreader! I know that CdC is not above some great typos and blundering spelling errors but if I was laying out phat cash to do a pro magazine I certainly would not allow things like "Ocar Wilde," "La Femme Nakita," "Todd Salons" (took me a few minutes on that one to figure out it was Todd Solondz they were talking about—seems they were spelling everything faux-netically) to make it to press. Definitely passable. I’m amazed it’s made nine issues if they’ve all been like this. Then again, maybe the rest have all had good cover gimmicks too!

Crimewave U.S.A. #10—$3—(P.O. Box 980301, Ypsilanti, MI 48198-0301)
This is a nice zine by Mark Maynard and Linette Lao. It’s maintains a regional flavor while containing articles from contributors across the country. Almost all of the stories are personal, including tales of a private tour of O.J. Simpson’s house, meeting a Barbie impersonator, and getting a dumb tattoo.

I must admit that I feel pretty out of touch. Crimewave U.S.A. has been around for ten issues but I only found out about it after reading a review in a new local free paper and stumbling across it at East Lansing’s Gen X. Being edited by a couple and having repeated contributors, there is an in-joke feel to some of the zine, but most of it is kept to the letters section so I didn’t feel excluded for long.

Crimewave U.S.A. looks great. I was especially impressed with the cover art. Issue #10 boasts the stunning image of a vicious Tyrannosaurus Rex from Irish Hill’s Prehistoric Forest—a fantastic tourist trap and favorite haunt of my younger years.

The gang is taking their show on the road to Cali-for-nye-ay—once I get their new address I’ll post it here.

Loafing The Donkey #59—$3—(P.O. Box 820584, Memphis, TN 38182)
After reading the review of Cashiers du Cinemart #8 in Peter Mantis’ Loafing The Donkey #59 I became quite curious.

The review defended CdC against Chris Gore’s damning comments that I reprinted in our last issue. Mantis does this by giving a brief history of Gore’s early days of Film Threat back when it was distributed on the campus of Wayne State University with the phrase "Cashier du Cinema" under the masthead. Woops, my bad. I guess I’ve never addressed that little item. When I began CdC, I had no idea that Film Threat once carried such a similar name. It wasn’t imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and I hesitate to say that it was great minds thinking alike. I suppose it could have been from the shared idle dreams of movie theater workers. Sorry, I don’t mean to get too Jungian here, but in the cinephile collective unconscious I believe that the French film mag’s Cahier name is often misread as being the more familiar English word "Cashier".

I digress.

Eventually Mantis gets back to reviewing CdC and says that "this zine isn’t a (sic) EASY read, you gotta sift through a lot of dreck...Cashier (sic) du Cinemart is worth the effort...and the best thing about it being it delivers more than it promises only YA gotta take time to sift through the schlock."

That’s all fine and good. CdC isn’t for everyone and I’m glad that Mantis found some merit to the mag. However, his words made me really sit back and take stock of my own writing. How many times to I simply criticize something without critiquing it? Do I simply slam poorly produced material without offering some sort of alternative? Do I attempt to offer hypothetical alternatives, analysis, or suggestions? I’d like to say for certain that I do but there is a chance that on occasion my passion outweighs my patience and I make sweeping judgements.

I’ve never claimed that an issue of Cashiers du Cinemart was perfect. In regards to CdC #8 I feel that, as it gestated for over eighteen months, the issue turned out to be quite a collage of ideas, lacking a central theme. Despite that, like every issue I did the best job I could and feel a sense of pride about it.

So, what was dreck to Mantis?

Instead of banging my head against the wall and questioning the faith I had in my zine and myself, I went right to the source. I e-mailed Mantis and asked him to clarify his statements. I’m always trolling for opinions—positive or negative—about CdC and I felt that a fellow zinester might have some valuable insight on what I might do to improve the quality of my work.

Sadly, after being as polite as I could muster, Mantis sidestepped my question and offered no clue to what might be schlocky to the publisher of Loafing The Donkey.

I’m not miffed about the review but the lack of a concise response and I would like to offer an apology for the times that I have imitated Mantis’ deed. I should like to think that CdC isn’t merely a zine that praises or condemns films, zines, records, books, Quentin Tarantino, etc. but that we take a critical look at everything we write. Perhaps we won’t go so far as to hold an artist’s hand and outline a step-by-step improvement process but I hope that we will be able to either show what’s better or worse about our subjects with more concrete examples. We try to accomplish this goal by employing more forethought and descriptive writing.

If I were a real smart-ass I’d proceed to rip Loafing the Donkey a new a-hole at this point but I will try to be serious, sincere, and productive.

Loafing The Donkey is a tough read. Not that the stories are bad or obtuse: the sloppy layout just doesn’t lend itself to easy reading. Among the myriad of pictures of Mantis and his dog are reviews of videos, records, books, and (other) zines written with a lot of ellipses...and words ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS. There’s a semi-interesting story about a local television channel going down the tubes and a write up of Mantis’ new Macintosh that’s very heavy on the tech end but a little light on poignancy. I just don’t see it being worth the $3 cover price.

Entertainment Weekly—$3.50—(1675 Broadway, New York, NY 10019)
I’ve lost the ability to read Entertainment Weekly from cover-to-cover. Trying to pin-point the time where EW went from the magazine I couldn’t wait to read to the one I try to get around to—or don’t—takes me back to a period of time when EW became a magazine based on lists. The Top One Hundred Science Fiction Films. The Top One Hundred Directors. The Best Actors. The Best Actresses. The Top One Hundred Comedies. The list of lists goes on and on. Certainly, there is an undeniable trend for magazines to contain lists such as the year’s best films but the reason why this works is because they are annual excursions—not biweekly! To fill issues with lists of the last three months’ top and bottom box office draws or lists with increased specificity (The Hundred Best Comedies on Television) removes the small amount of poignancy inherent in year-end "wrap up" issues. When the dust settled and the initial glut of lists petered out (it seems that they’re beginning to ebb again), Entertainment Weekly was a different magazine. Their focus had shifted.

Before, Entertainment Weekly was more in-depth than the seemingly studio-sponsored Premiere and less bitchy than the overly acerbic and self-congratulatory Movieline. It covered films from the blockbusters to the bottom shelf. I could always count on hilarious, spot-on comparisons between films, the latest news on new projects, and well-written, insightful articles.

Now when I open Entertainment Weekly I get a few good articles, an occasional informative blurb and lots of television coverage. Instead of film magazines, it’d now be best to compare EW to TV Guide. Certainly there is still ample coverage of big film releases but it feels that EW now lives for mid-season replacements with pages and pages of television listings.

It’s not simply the decrease of "harder" news that bothers me. Moreover, it’s the dated feel of each issue. I often get my copy of EW three days to a full week after it’s meant to be in my mailbox. This renders a third (or more) of the magazine completely useless. The only thing less interesting than reading who was on David Letterman three days ago is reading the plot of last night’s "Veronica’s Closet."

X Posé #30—$5—(PO Box 156, Manorville, NY 11949)
This is one of a series of magazines from the Visual Imagination Company whose other equally vapid titles include Film Review, TV Zone, Cult Times, Movie Idols, Starburst, and Shivers. The titles don’t matter, though, as they all share identical innards and cover the same subjects: "Star Trek," "X-Files," "Xena: Warrior Princess," the latest Kevin Williamson project, etc. The real meat of all of these magazines, especially X Posé, is "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." Perusing the past issues on their website I found that four out of the last four issues had features about Buffy.

The Visual Imagination magazines remind me of the classic suck-ass Starlog (and the current clutch of Cinescape titles) in their indiscriminate coverage of all things "fantastic" from the new Psycho to The Prince of Egypt to Mighty Joe Young to "Touched By An Angel." Huh?

X Posé is littered with pictures not directly related to the material being covered such as the shot from The Empire Strikes Back in their obligatory write-up of the Phantom MENACE preview. The mag is far from ground breaking in its news items. Most stories are nothing more than a reasonably informed person would already know—the kind of stories that find you without having to seek them out. X Posé is filled with "hard news" such as rumors about the next James Bond film and "Ten Things You Never Knew About Gillian Anderson" including such mind-blowing revelations as the fact that she has a mole above her lip! Wow! That’s hard-hitting journalism!

These magazines are the opposite of hip and have no concept of irony or discretion. I was somewhat shocked to find that they even have a review section to the magazine that would give less than four stars to anything. However, they even cover their bases by having everything reviewed twice (ironically, most of the time both takes are in full agreement with one another). Dual reviews rob the magazine of any vestiges of integrity it might hope to portray.

Visual Image’s litter of magazines are definitely to be avoided. They contain nothing of note. I think, much to my own dismay and amusement, that readers interested in the material these magazines cover would be much better off served by sticking to the Internet’s more popular rumor-mongering and fan-devoted websites.

Juxtapoz #17—$5—(PO Box 884570, San Francisco, CA 94188-4570)
Uh-oh, not cool. I’m reviewing a periodical that you can buy at Barnes & Noble fer chrissake! I’ve chosen to review it since my pile of "To Review" zines was lost in the move I made last year. Plus, this magazine definitely has "indie cred."

Juxtapoz bills itself as a "new art magazine for a new art movement." I guess it’s good to know that there’s a new art movement going on—I was pretty clueless to it—(this is coming from someone who lives a few miles from the C-Pop Gallery and who might have rubbed elbows with some of the "celebrities" that the mag covers such as Glenn Barr and Niagara).

The mag’s got a great look and some pretty pictures—#17 had cool-as-fuck reprints of some of the work of Mark Ryden’s who seems a bit obsessed with meat, insects, Abraham Lincoln, and Christina Ricci—but, then again, aren’t we all? Issue #18 has a nice write-up of the work of Edgar Leetag, an original proponent of art on black velvet. It’s cool enough that I’m thinking about subscribing to it! Definitely worth a look!

Back to Issue 9