Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Review: The Black Arts

Buy The Black Arts: A Concise History of Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, and Other Mystical Practices Throughout the Ages

Technically speaking, I'm breaking with the thesis of this blog by reviewing a book for which cinema has nothing to do. However, we all love films pertaining to witchcraft, don't we? Need I mention Rosemary's Baby? No, of course not. I procured this text as a means to further separate the facts from the fiction, hence, better appreciate the films of the occult. No, I don't believe in witchcraft, or any ritualized religion, but I find it irresistible the people who act on darker thoughts to produce a prescribed effect. And so it is with great necessity that I write this review.
Richard Cavendish has written the most unbiased account on the actual practice of witchcraft that I have ever read. The language avoids academic jargon yet maintains a professional and approachable tone. I often find this type of book to be either too academic or just plain sensational, but Cavendish has escaped both these pitfalls. The Black Arts isn't a history so much as it is an explanation of the differing philosophies and rituals of black magic. All bases are covered from Hebrew numerology to Satanism. Each chapter delves into a distinct understanding of the subject while providing a storied back round of the particular practice, illuminating the way rituals were performed and the whys of the witches themselves. Some rituals, such as mimicry (the act of replicating events for protection, etc.), are just downright absurd while others that aim to produce sickness, or worse, are consciously frightening. What you'll find in reading this great book is the sociological, psychological, and evolutionary reasons magic exists. I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are interested in the truth behind the creation and practice of black magic from early times to the present, do yourself a favor and click on the link above.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

REVIEW: Eyeball Compendium

Eyeball: Compendium 1989-2003

Do you remember the underground fanzine "Eyeball" which was dedicated to reviewing the obscure and erotic in exploitation cinema? No? Don't worry about it, because now you can own the best articles, interviews, and film reviews the publication had to offer. Released in 2003 by FAB Press, creator Stephen Thrower divides the book into three sections: Interviews, Features, and Reviews. Each section relays it's content like a finely mastered mixtape dedicated to lovers of the subversive. None other than Alejandro Jodorowsky, Paul Morrissey, Andrzej Zulawski, and Ulli Lommel are interviewed. Gaspar Noe also takes on questions, even relaying his process for filming in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16mm film equipment. As noted, film reviews abound, but the highlight of the compendium is a short essay by Ramsey Campbell, "La Notte Bava", where he rambles on the films of Bava, Argento, and Naschy. Contributors include: Kim Newman, Tim Lucas, Alan Jones, and others. Highly recommended!