February 23, 2012
Barney Rosset, the founder and publisher who ran Grove Press, died and is written up in this NYTimes obituary. I still have my copy, purchased in high school, of The Monk, by Matthew Gregory Lewis. At the time, as today, I had a taste for gothic excess in literature. When I say gothic, I mean in the original literary sense: Vathek, Melmoth the Wanderer, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, and that sort of thing. The Monk is in a class by itself, however, moving over the line from dark romantic fantasies and frissons into peverse and pornographic lunacy.
Grove is famous for battling the censorious US Postmaster, and winning, in cases involving Lady Chatterlee’s Lover and Tropic of Cancer. Many got their fill of Divine Marquis by perusing the pages of the fat, brick-like three volumes of de Sade in the bookstore, even if they didn’t buy them to finish at home.
September 14, 2011
1970s post-nuclear apocalypse, bad sound quality, low budget, grainy images, cult status: that’s A Boy and His Dog, based on stories by Harlan Ellison. Don Johnson plays Vic, who traipses across the desert with his highly educated, cynical, and telepathic dog, Blood. The dog calls him Albert to annoy him. If you hadn’t read the story (or the Wiki article) you might think Vic is hallucinating and talking to himself, but it seems that before The End, civilization got into some pretty advanced biological experiments.
Vic is trapped, lured underground by a piece of ‘cheese’, a beautiful girl (Susanne Benton), to a surviving community where things look nice, but society is ruled by a committee of three and Christian pap is pumped over loudspeakers endlessly. Vic is needed for his sperm – he’s a good, healthy specimen of a male. When he learns the reason for his abduction, he’s all for it! He doesn’t realize that the process will be rather mechanical.
This movie is pretty slow, and it’s hard to watch because of the quality and low budget…but there’s something to it. Especially in the second half, it’s so crazy and darkly satirical, that it comes together. Of course, there’s that ending after Vic and the girl escape back to retrieve Blood, left topside in the desert. I won’t spoil it for you.