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SLEAZOID EXPRESS: A Mind Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square
(Fireside) by Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford. Nonfiction. 2002. 315 pages. I must admit, I’ve always wondered what New York’s Times Square (and Boston’s Combat Zone) was like in its filthy grindhouse, porno days back in the 60s, 70, and even 80’s. However, after reading Sleazoid Express, my curiosity is no longer piqued as I now realize that at least Times Square wasn’t the place for me. Not because of the movies that played at the cinemas (hell, I’ve reviewed a number of movies discussed here), but because of how Bill Landis (grindhouse attendee, employee, and creator of the legendary grindhouse zine Sleazoid Express) and Michelle Clifford describe the grindhouses makes me want to bathe in a tub of Lysol. Beginning each chapter with detailed description of various grindhouses, Landis and Clifford set the dangerous, sleazy, and germ infested atmosphere that constantly surrounded the showing of these often critically snubbed movies. Words repeatedly used to describe these places; sticky, smelly, BO, hustlers, pimps, drug addicts, bullet holes, and pickpockets. After so eloquently and effectively setting the atmosphere of the playhouses, Landis/Clifford go into in-depth reviews of many movies that played in Times Squares’ grindhouses and offers biographies on people who made them.  Devoting a chapter to a certain cinema and genre of movie, the authors detail Eurosleaze, gender-benders, “roughie” porn, butcher/horror flics, the Ilsa series, black exploitation films, etc. Amongst others, filmmakers Andy Milligan, the Findleys, and The Ameros are also dissected. Although this book isn’t for cinema buffs who are not into this type of movie culture, anyone who is remotely interested in or just long for the grindhouse heyday will find Sleazoid Express fascinating, informative, and most definitely detailed enough to make your shoes stick the floor. – Denis Sheehan


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