I've had the latest issue of 'Flesh and Blood' lurking around for a while, but haven't yet got round to reviewing it. This is largely because it is one BIG mother: over two hundred pages of really quite small type, accompanied by the sort of illustrations which make it "interesting", shall we say, to read on public transport. Still, with some nifty folding, I finally managed to read it at work this lunchtime -- hell, everyone there thinks I'm strange anyway...
There's something slightly familiar about F&B: like a certain other publication I could mention, they've gone perfect-bound, spread out beyond the boundaries of film, and have got Lino in to do the 'zine reviews. Fine choices in all the categories, albeit with variable success. While the format is good, and Lino is as Lino as ever, F&B is on weaker ice when it tries to cover non-film territory. There are two obvious pieces which do this, and there which are borderline: to take the latter first, there's an okay article on Willam Burroughs, two pages of incomprehensible and unreadable text on the noise group Merzbow, and a pictorial of "Gina Velour" -- aka Marne Lucas, whose "photos deal with body issues, using self-portraits as a forum to inspire women to confront their sexuality". Yeah, whatever.
Ever further on the outer fringes, we have a rather good piece on shrunken heads and [Harvey, you KNOW what I'm going to say!] a large waste of space on 'Rockbitch', a Satanic collective-cum-heavy-metal-band who do moderately dodgy things on (and indeed, off) stage. Oh, and they're women. How much space do you think they get? Four pages? Eight, maybe? Try TWENTY-SIX. Yet what's actually interesting is the media reaction to them, which is covered perfectly adequately in a neat side-bar. Editor Harvey Fenton has tried to explain to me why he considers them so important; I remain resolutely unconvinced, and still reckon he just wants to shag 'em. :-)
This straying into 'Headpress' or 'Divinity' territory aside, the good news is that there is easily more than enough excellent material in the remaining pages to justify its existence. From Pete Thrower's merciless shredding of 'Scream' (spoiled marginally by describing 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' as "flawless" -- two words, Pete: flared trousers) through to Mitch Davis reporting on the hell of the American Film Market, there is a LOT of good stuff. They've carried over some of the features from the magazine version i.e.the British horror filmography, which gives a sense of continuity. However, new readers need not be put off, and the interviews cover the whole spectrum of film-makers from Coffin Joe through Gerard 'Deep Throat' Damiano to Freddie Francis.
Plus there's stuff on Jack the Ripper films (he operated within an entrail's throw of where I'm typing this, by coincidence), Marco Ferreri, 'Cafe Flesh 2', the abortive efforts of the BBFC to legalise porn, an amusing one-pager on the erotic exploits of French President Mitterand's astrologer, and more reviews than you can shake an engorged body part at. The sheer volume of effort that went into this would be impressive on its own, regardless of the quality. And when the quality is as generally high as this - the odd self-indulgent piece aside - it becomes even more imposing.
The major qualm will be if F&B also follows TC down the line of infrequency -- worryingly, this last issue did take longer to come out than anticipated. But even if this does turn out to be the case, at least you'll have plenty to keep you going in between times.