Keywords: Cult film, horror video

Title: Flesh & Blood Compendium

Editor: Harvey Fenton

Publisher: FAB Press

Media: Book

Reviewer: James Marriott

Flesh & Blood was one of the better exploitation film magazines to hit specialist shelves during the 1990s - of the UK competition, only the slightly more heavyweight and Eurocentric Eyeball compares, and the two often shared contributors. While Eyeball championed arthouse sleaze like the unmissable Possession (pieces on its director, Andrzej Zulawski, was featured in three consecutive issues) and embraced a fairly rigorous intellectual attitude that may have alienated some trash fans, FAB was an altogether more fun affair, covering Hollywood blockbusters, British sex films and festival-screened shorts with an infectious enthusiasm, while still finding room for Eyeball-style fare such as features on Alain Robbe-Grillet and Marco Ferreri. The magazine now appears irregularly in book format (ie only one has been published so far), with editor Harvey Fenton's energies devoted more nowadays to running FAB Press, which has published some of the finest books on horror/exploitation cinema around.

This book is a compendium of the finest moments from the magazine years, and gives a pretty faithful idea of the magazine's range: interviews with figures ranging from Peter Jackson to Coffin Joe, features on prosthetic sex rubbing shoulders with articles on the 90s slasher film. If you already have the original magazines, there's not much that's new here: a few of the pieces have been updated, but none are entirely new. But a magazine is an ephemeral medium - it falls apart, the staples come out, pages tear easily etc - and it's good to see the articles here appearing in a format more suitable for their quality.

The choices made by the editor are sound, with marginal pieces such as the long feature on Rockbitch featured in Flesh & Blood Book One discarded in favour of ... well, mainly porn. The smut content here's probably a little higher than it was during the magazine's publication, and many of the features have lavish full-colour spreads devoted to them. Clearly 'Randy Squalor', the author of most of these, is one of the jewels in FAB's crown. The other strength here is the interviews, which are in-depth and interesting, and which take up roughly half of the word count: in addition to those already mentioned, there are also interviews with Russ Meyer, Richard Stanley, Michele Soavi, Nacho Cerdá etc

If you never read Flesh & Blood and have even a passing interest in exploitation cinema, this book is essential reading. If you already have the magazines, this isn't a must-have, but is still recommended, to reduce staple injuries and indeed storage space. Next up, I'd like to see Eyeball get the same treatment …

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