The original intro written for this wesbite (see below) is still valid. However it turns out that there will be a Spinegrinder Movie Book (from Headpress) after all. At this time (May 7th 2012) i have just handed in the final draft (i hope), and the resulting tome may be out in bookstores at the tail end of this year. This changes things a bit vis-a-vis the website, so let's talk about that. As the print version will be about, i am no longer in a massive hurry to up the entire backlog of Spinegrinder movie reviews on to this site. Of course, slowly and surely over the years everything will be upped, as i would like to leave a complete, free online database of my work before i go to my grave. But for the time being, the reviews upped here will be mostly new stuff, movies i have not seen before and can't wait to share my opinion of. My rough plan is to maybe collect these over the next ten years, chuck together all the reviews that didn't make it into the first book (about 2000), write all the reviews that i never got around to writing in the past few years for various reasons (another 3000, some will require re-watching the films) and then put out a Vol. 2 (in my dreams it would also include everything from Vol. 1, making it both a sequel and an update. But that would mean the book would contain about 18-19,000 (!) reviews, and would give readers a hernia. We will have to see about that closer to the time). For the time being, i hope you enjoy my further adventures in cinema criticism (i hope to really dig in to some obscure areas for this website soon) keep a look out for the Spinegrinder Movie Book in bookstores sometime soon (i will of course let you know as soon as i do) and keep those gorilla suits warm. Consider this site a sketchpad for future plans from the Spinegrinder Empire.

Clive Davies May 7th 2012, Tokyo Japan.


The first film i ever remember seeing was ZOLTAN, HOUND OF DRACULA (aka DRACULA`S DOG), a Charles Band production from the 70`s which turned up (while still relatively new) on HTV (the regional outlet for ITV`s programming in South Wales) during the mid-80`s. My father had taped it from late-night tv, and was settling down to watch it the following afternoon. I remember my sister claiming they were going to watch BAMBI, so as to put me off (i was already a morbid little kid drawn to horror and precociously dismissive of "kids films"). But i knew something was up, and i was right! I have reservations about going back to re-watch ZOLTAN, as by all accounts it is a very silly film with little to redeem it, and my childhood memories paint it as quite a scary, atmospheric vampire dog film (not an overcrowded genre). I remember my dad quite enjoying it too (i was a young child, don`t know what his excuse was). Anyway, the father-son horror watching team became a regular fixture. Specifically Hammer horror, and even more specifically their vampire and Dracula films (Dad didn`t like their FRANKENSTEIN series for some reason). We also watched lots of westerns together (a very Dad thing to like, and it took me many years to quite understand his attraction to cowboy movies, but i took to the Italian stuff straight away, thanks to a family viewing of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY). Dad`s prejudices didn`t effect my viewing for long though, as it is only a matter of time before a movie obssessed kid learns how to set the video timer himself, and perfect the craft far in advance of his seniors (the only drawback to becoming Lord of the VCR is of course all the requests from other family members to tape stuff for them, but a small price to pay). We didn`t really have a much of a nearby video shop in my village (i do recall some bloke with a few titles in a rented room above the hairdressers for a while, and watching GHOSTBUSTERS when it was new from there). I was too young to drive of course, so a trip to a video rental shop (usually Sal`s in Llandeilo) was a rare treat (although i was never allowed to rent the truly gory titles i craved, the closest i got was persuading my non-horror fan brother to rent GHOULIES one time, as it was a bit of a comedy). And the nearest cinema was the other side of the Black Mountain (i loved Brynaman cinema, and it had a particularly good Fish & Chips shop nearby, and it was part of the family cinema-going ritual). Despite my memories leading me to believe that i was the only truly movie-obssessed memeber of my family, i do recall my father once driving us back over the Black Mountain in such thick fog that he had to open his drivers-side door a crack to follow the yellow road markings (the road didn`t have much in the way of barriers either, so you could easily drive over a precipice!). That`s some dedication to moviegoing! But my mainline to movies was the telly, and we didn`t have Sattelite or Cable (but a factory co-worker of my Dad`s did have Cable, and i remember my old man bringing home a box full of vids of films his mate had taped off cable, including CONAN THE DESTROYER). Our VCR (not that we ever used that acronym in the UK of course, very American) worked overtime. I caught up with more Hammer (including the FRANKENSTEIN stuff, and THE DEVIL RIDES OUT which really impressed me), and i learnt what a director did and stuff like that from books, and my first cinematic behind-the-scenes hero (while still in Primary School) was Terence Fisher. MOVIEDROME was on BBC2 back then, and Alex Cox introduced me to more than a few memorable gems (my Dad really liked THE WICKER MAN too!). S4C (that`s the Welsh Channel 4) had GODZILLA seasons. HTV seemed to run horror films on Friday night for years, and i remember vividly being scared shitless by NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (and this was on the bright Saturday morning the day after i taped it!). Horror and sci-fi, leading to an interest in other types of violent and/or controversial movies is a familiar path for young cult movie fans in bloom, and soon enough i was craving Sam Peckinpah and more of those weird Hong Kong movies that turned up Xmas time on S4C. In my teens, inspired by an article i read by Kim Newman on his early forays into film criticism, i decided to watch every film that was shown on tv, regardless of genre or era or anything (well, i tried, i didn`t catch it all, but it was a very productive and horizon-broadening few years). I saw many classics, many more forgettable tv movies, learnt to apprecaite musicals, was blindsided by gems from the past, disappointed by overrated omnipresent behomeths and learnt that the establishment didn`t neccesarily know a good thing when they saw it, and generally cultivated a personal, critical yet bemused and reasonably educated cinematic outlook. But i hadn`t really written anything down. Fast-forward to 1999, Tokyo, Japan. I`m 19 years old, a newlywed and out-of-work in a strange land. Lots of time on my hands. Do i buckle down and study Japanese like a good boy? No, i frequent the local video shops (of which are many) and gorge myself on all those banned films you couldn`t see so easily back then in the UK (i had seen a few of the "nasties" and was a Fulci fan, but i had a long way to go). ILSA, THE EXECUTIONER, CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, FACES OF DEATH etc., and a whole new world of local product that i had only seen very little of before (FUDOH and SPLATTER: NAKED BLOOD were bootleg faves in the summer of `96). Aided by a translator (the wife) i watched the likes of the ALL NIGHT LONG series, DEAD OR ALIVE :HANZAISHA, ICHI THE KILLER, JIGOKU, GHOST STORY OF YOTSUYA etc. etc., many of which had yet to be given English subtitles anywhere (aided it has to be said, by the highly inaccurate yet undeniably essential JAPANESE CINEMA ENCYCLOPEDIA books by Thomas Weisser...the guy still has a lot to fucking answer for though!). This time, i was writing all about my discoveries. My viewing scope contracted a bit. Now that i had access to all the exploitation films i really wanted to see (usually in nice, uncut widescreen prints that the Japanese were so ahead-of-the-game in preserving on VHS and laserdisc in the pre-DVD days), i wasn`t watching as many romantic comedies, musicals and tv movies with John Ritter as much as i used to (if in fact, at all). But i became a bit more of an expert in the fields of spaghetti westerns. kung fu films, pink films, giallos (or is it gialli?), dtv action movies, Indonesian fantasies, films with Billy Drago in..... In 2002 i sent some sample reviews to Headpress (then based in Manchester) and they agreed to publish The Spinegrinder Movie Guide (my original title was the less punchy Rather Far I Think... in reference to an obscure bit of dialogue from THE WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN...hello Daz). I eventually (after a couple of years and several missed deadlines, sorry David) sent them about 6,500 reviews (all based on first hand viewings) for the first volume. The publishing world moves slowly, and through no fault of their own it seemed to take forever (although they did put all the reviews up to read on their website). I am eternally grateful to David Kerekes and the gang for their perseverance (and i still might do something with them), but in 2010 i decided to take Spinegrinder back, and learn how to build a website. I doubt the book would have made me rich anyway, so here it is. Since 2004 i have amassed even more reviews. Altogether i have about 10,000, either typed-up and awaiting spellcheck and a quick upload, or handwritten across several notebooks. There is also the mini-mountain of reviews i didn`t even get around to writing for whatever reason. These have to be constructed from my whirlwind of notes scattered around my office, and in some cases i have to re-watch the films because they were so forgettable i have nothing to say. And i`m still watching and reviewing movies. In some ways my horizons have widened again (not quite ready for romantic comedies or Merchant Ivory yet though), and in others become more specific (i realize that i may not see every dtv action movie ever made in my lifetime, maybe not even all the Don "The Dragon" Wilson ones, but i`ll be damned if i don`t track down every Taiwanese kung fu flick between the late 60`s to the mid-80`s and review `em). So between all these there is plenty of material to feed this ever-growing database. It comes via Brit horror/Video nasty era/telefantasy roots, expanded by Michael J. Weldon`s Psychotronic Video and the like, and is now focused through more personalised fetishes...who knows what it will mutate into as the years go by. I hope you enjoy whatever it is, because i sure am.
Clive Davies Dec 2010.