Friday, December 26, 2008


Cult film legend Bill Landis passed away on Saturday at age 49 of an apparent heart attack. There were movie fanzines in circulation before Landis came along, but once that first one-side-of-one-sheet issue of his Sleazoid Express appeared in the summer of 1980, the face of film criticism changed forever. Sleazoid Express inspired a dozen imitators (Trashola, The Gore Gazette, Confessions of a Trash Fiend, Chicago Shivers, etc.) that in very short time attracted their own imitators until it seemed like every 17-year-old with access to a VCR, typewriter and photocopier was cranking out a ‘zine to spread the word about Andy Milligan, Herschel Gordon Lewis, MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY, and Rudy Ray Moore. Nowadays ‘zine editors are called “bloggers” and they never have to leave their homes, but Landis put himself out on the mean streets to get the job done. Unlike the Golden Turkeys who encouraged readers to laugh at (or turn away in disgust from) the low-rent efforts of poverty row filmmakers, Landis saw gutter-level street art on display in every rotting grindhouse. He dove into the dark waters over and over again, always resurfacing with treasures many of us still watch and enjoy to this day. Would there be movies by Roberta Findlay, Andy Milligan or Lee Frost on DVD now if Landis hadn’t written about them in Sleazoid Express twenty-five years ago? It’s impossible to say, but one thing’s for sure: there wouldn’t have been a Temple of Schlock. Bill's shuffled off to the grindhouse in the sky, and if he isn't running the projector yet, I hope he at least has a front row seat.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Came late to this party and was sad to learn of Bill's passing, albeit years after the fact.

I had the pleasure of sending Bill 3/4" tapes of grade z movie ads that ran at the tv station I was working at in the late 80's and early 90's.