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Immoral Tales: European Sex and Horror Movies, 1956-1984

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European cinema has always excelled when it comes to "bad" movies. When continental moviemakers combined horror with sex, they unleashed a tidal wave of celluloid strangeness that lasted nearly thirty years. From sexy thrillers to pulp surrealism, from decadent erotica to blood-soaked vampire epics, nothing could go too far. Immoral Tales tells the fascinating story of thi European cinema has always excelled when it comes to "bad" movies. When continental moviemakers combined horror with sex, they unleashed a tidal wave of celluloid strangeness that lasted nearly thirty years. From sexy thrillers to pulp surrealism, from decadent erotica to blood-soaked vampire epics, nothing could go too far. Immoral Tales tells the fascinating story of this unique period, peeking into the kaleidoscope of visceral horror, maverick directors, and erotic invention.


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European cinema has always excelled when it comes to "bad" movies. When continental moviemakers combined horror with sex, they unleashed a tidal wave of celluloid strangeness that lasted nearly thirty years. From sexy thrillers to pulp surrealism, from decadent erotica to blood-soaked vampire epics, nothing could go too far. Immoral Tales tells the fascinating story of thi European cinema has always excelled when it comes to "bad" movies. When continental moviemakers combined horror with sex, they unleashed a tidal wave of celluloid strangeness that lasted nearly thirty years. From sexy thrillers to pulp surrealism, from decadent erotica to blood-soaked vampire epics, nothing could go too far. Immoral Tales tells the fascinating story of this unique period, peeking into the kaleidoscope of visceral horror, maverick directors, and erotic invention.

30 review for Immoral Tales: European Sex and Horror Movies, 1956-1984

  1. 4 out of 5

    Baal Of

    Excellent overview of this peculiar realm of cinema, organized into sections for specific countries, followed by extensive career biographies of select film-makers. The vast majority of these films are extremely difficult to get hold of, and with places like Vulcan Video dying, even more difficult here in Austin. It's truly staggering just how much weird film has been created, and under such extremely difficult circumstances. Highly recommended book for anyone into bizarre, surreal, and transgre Excellent overview of this peculiar realm of cinema, organized into sections for specific countries, followed by extensive career biographies of select film-makers. The vast majority of these films are extremely difficult to get hold of, and with places like Vulcan Video dying, even more difficult here in Austin. It's truly staggering just how much weird film has been created, and under such extremely difficult circumstances. Highly recommended book for anyone into bizarre, surreal, and transgressive movies.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The review from "Detour" Magazine quoted on the back claims that this book is "the definitive erotic horror reference." Given the book's admitted limitations, the claim nevertheless holds some truth. As the subtitle predicts, the authors are only interested in films from Europe (not including the British Isles) from a period of less than three decades, but this time and place does seem to have been definitive of the concept of erotic horror. The book is a fascinating read, with beautiful and luri The review from "Detour" Magazine quoted on the back claims that this book is "the definitive erotic horror reference." Given the book's admitted limitations, the claim nevertheless holds some truth. As the subtitle predicts, the authors are only interested in films from Europe (not including the British Isles) from a period of less than three decades, but this time and place does seem to have been definitive of the concept of erotic horror. The book is a fascinating read, with beautiful and lurid illustrations of stills and posters (including a sizable section of color prints)interviews with some of the industry's most fascinating personalities and insights into production and audience reaction (including censorship). As a reference, its organizational style leaves much to be desired, although indexes in the back to film titles and names make it somewhat more accessible. As a film history, however, it is fantastic. Sections on German, Italian, French, and Spanish films give us a viewpoint on the national-specific cinema, but the point is made clearly that Eurosmut was at its best an international endeavor, usually involving international crews and casts. Sections on filmmakers range from the well-known (Jess Franco and Jean Rollin) to the unusual (Jose Larraz and Jose Benezeraf) to the obscure (Walerian Borowczyk and Alain Robbe-Grillet). Those familiar with the names listed above will realize that horror, while well-represented, is not the sole focus of thsi book. The Write-up of German national cinema, for example, includes a discussion of the famous "schoolgirl reports" which are simple pornography (if generally well-done) while Jorg Buttgereit's work is only mentioned in passing, as it falls outside the scope of the period under study. The emphasis here is on the bizarre and perverse, not strictly the horrific. Any fan of obscure film will find much of interest, however, and no doubt be introduced to dozens if not hundreds of new titles to search for.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    This is a sort of retroactive ur text. It groups all the films I like, but it took me years to finally read. As a text, it has little insight or critical engagement, and the authors & I like the films for different reasons (which is fine, and almost always the case). What was really striking, was how each of these filmmakers feel about CINEMA. As peripheral figures that straddled lines between genres and types, and peripheral genres and types at that, the uncertainty or the obsession of each is s This is a sort of retroactive ur text. It groups all the films I like, but it took me years to finally read. As a text, it has little insight or critical engagement, and the authors & I like the films for different reasons (which is fine, and almost always the case). What was really striking, was how each of these filmmakers feel about CINEMA. As peripheral figures that straddled lines between genres and types, and peripheral genres and types at that, the uncertainty or the obsession of each is striking. Maybe this is why I like these figures, because when you're on the outside you've got the privilege of looking in...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Uğur Kılınç

    Loved it! The book has great knowledge about sex & horror movie in Europe. I didn't know anything about European directors like José Bénazéraf and Alain Robbe-Grillet before I read it. I would expect more information about comics adaptation but that's okay. Looking forward to explore more about this genre. I wish I could find more of José Bénazéraf's movies (with English subtitle) on internet, though. Loved it! The book has great knowledge about sex & horror movie in Europe. I didn't know anything about European directors like José Bénazéraf and Alain Robbe-Grillet before I read it. I would expect more information about comics adaptation but that's okay. Looking forward to explore more about this genre. I wish I could find more of José Bénazéraf's movies (with English subtitle) on internet, though.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Augie

    Easily the best book on euro-trash cinema I have ever read. If you're even half interested in the subject I highly recommend., if even just for the images. Easily the best book on euro-trash cinema I have ever read. If you're even half interested in the subject I highly recommend., if even just for the images.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    IMMORAL TALES is an overview of European sex and horror movies made from 1956 to 1984. Its main focus is in the filmmakers, but it also includes other resources such as writers, painters, producers, publishers, and comic book artists. It is a wild and giddy ride, and one filled with many photographs. Not nearly at the comprehensive level of Jonathan Rigby’s excellent, EURO GOTHIC, it still provides insight into the circumstances behind these film endeavors, especially the political situations an IMMORAL TALES is an overview of European sex and horror movies made from 1956 to 1984. Its main focus is in the filmmakers, but it also includes other resources such as writers, painters, producers, publishers, and comic book artists. It is a wild and giddy ride, and one filled with many photographs. Not nearly at the comprehensive level of Jonathan Rigby’s excellent, EURO GOTHIC, it still provides insight into the circumstances behind these film endeavors, especially the political situations and public censors. Indeed, some films were so heavily edited with offensive material either removed or added (depending on the market, and each market had different definitions of “offensive” and promotional needs) that determining the “definitive” version is often very difficult. Following a general history, the book has larger sections dedicated to specific filmmakers. These are Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, Jose Larraz, Jose Benazeraf, Walerian Borowczyk, and Alain Robbe-Grillet. Of these, I’ve never had much appreciation for the films of Jess Franco and Jean Rollin. Their work often seems improvised with film techniques that try my patience. Despite the writers’ positive overview, I read nothing to change my opinion about them. (They did convince me to add the Larraz film, SYMPTOMS, to my collection.) On the whole, it was engrossing to discover the challenges these filmmakers faced. Also, considering society’s changing opinions, I wonder how many of them would be able to make their films today. A nice feature was an extensive Appendix that provided brief introductions to many “key players” of the period. I was surprised that some names did not receive more of a deluxe treatment over the ones that had been chosen (Mario Bava comes readily to mind). Yet, that didn’t diminish the overall value. Ultimately, IMMORAL TALES isn’t a “starter” book for those who are entirely unfamiliar with the topic. The writers, at times, assume the Reader has some knowledge of some of the films and filmmakers. And even though I had disagreements with their opinions, I still learned things that I had not known before.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather Drain

    A veritable bible of European arthouse/cult cinema. Bless Pete Tombs.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thursday Simpson

    An absolutely excellent book. If you're teaching a class on Euro Cult cinema this would be the perfect textbook. Or if you want to teach yourself about Euro Cult cinema, this is the best guide. An absolutely excellent book. If you're teaching a class on Euro Cult cinema this would be the perfect textbook. Or if you want to teach yourself about Euro Cult cinema, this is the best guide.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    Cuts wide across the Art and Euro-trash ends of the horror genre spectrum during this two decade period, with extensive chapters on the life and filmographies of Jess Franco and Ken Russel in particular. Though it almost completely ignores the giallo phenomenon, and skirts past the more mainstream European horror directors such as Bava, Fulci and Argento, there are some fascinating looking films covered here. It was because of this book that I first saw The Awful Dr. Orloff (so-so) and Mill of t Cuts wide across the Art and Euro-trash ends of the horror genre spectrum during this two decade period, with extensive chapters on the life and filmographies of Jess Franco and Ken Russel in particular. Though it almost completely ignores the giallo phenomenon, and skirts past the more mainstream European horror directors such as Bava, Fulci and Argento, there are some fascinating looking films covered here. It was because of this book that I first saw The Awful Dr. Orloff (so-so) and Mill of the Stone Women (pretty awesome). Included are great black & white photos and stills, but near the chronological end of the book (late 70s) it becomes hard to read in public, due to the large spreads of buck-naked vampire chicks rolling around in satin sheets with blood on their tits, and various other examples of full-frontal nudity.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric Henderson

    Essential reading for adventurous film fans, and a wonderful overview of a genre the book itself helped define. If you love weird, crazy, over-the-top movies, and think you've seen a lot of them, but the names Jean Rollin, Jess Franco, and Walerian Borowczyk are not familiar to you, get this book and hold onto your hat. I read this cover to cover when it came out and have returned to it many times since. FYI co-author Pete Tombs is the guy behind the Mondo Macabro video label. Essential reading for adventurous film fans, and a wonderful overview of a genre the book itself helped define. If you love weird, crazy, over-the-top movies, and think you've seen a lot of them, but the names Jean Rollin, Jess Franco, and Walerian Borowczyk are not familiar to you, get this book and hold onto your hat. I read this cover to cover when it came out and have returned to it many times since. FYI co-author Pete Tombs is the guy behind the Mondo Macabro video label.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael P.

    As is usual with such books, many more questions are raised than are answered. I'd like a whole lot more context along with the facts. This is, otherwise, an good place to begin learning about a whole lot of sleazy film that I could never make myself sit through. As is usual with such books, many more questions are raised than are answered. I'd like a whole lot more context along with the facts. This is, otherwise, an good place to begin learning about a whole lot of sleazy film that I could never make myself sit through.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike Hunchback

    It doesn't get any better than this. IMMORAL TALES cemented a sub-genre of film fandom as a truly significant movement. A masterpiece beyond words ... It doesn't get any better than this. IMMORAL TALES cemented a sub-genre of film fandom as a truly significant movement. A masterpiece beyond words ...

  13. 5 out of 5

    John King

    Loved this book. I read it twenty years ago and spent a small fortune buying the tapes and DVDs.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rob Foster

    I think this might be called... soft... coffeetable porn? Interesting in that it doesn't delve too deeply in the subject matter to become tedious - but that's also a kind of drawback. I think this might be called... soft... coffeetable porn? Interesting in that it doesn't delve too deeply in the subject matter to become tedious - but that's also a kind of drawback.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Great for the pics and posters if for nothing else.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Evan Cvitanovic

    If you like horror movies

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daddy Bookworm

    Absolutely essential! Incredibly informative!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Didier Vanheusden

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brad

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bryant Frazer

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cianeto

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Detroit

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jared

  28. 5 out of 5

    Neil Sceeny

  29. 5 out of 5

    Phil Rigby

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Ashford

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