A couple weeks ago I sat down with a comic called A.K.A., fully intending to just read the first issue in the collection. Before I knew it, an hour had passed and final panels of the book were quickly transforming from mysteries into memories. What was it that inspired me to keep readin’, ignorin’ the ringin’ phone and the frantic cries of the mailman outside my window to save him from the vocal veteran’s rabid mailman?
Pure comics bad-assery.
A.K.A. is a perfect throwback to those golden years when mawkish snooze fests hopin’ to snag Oscars weren’t the only films considered high-quality. No, this comic summons the spirits of the 1970s exploitation flicks that taught moviegoers the value of flawed heroes, babes with dangerous measurements, and gratuitous violence. As the (anti)hero of A.K.A., Guy Doyle navigates his way through these elements, in the process teaching the reader how to revel in the chaos of a mob war.
So won over was my heart that I decided to reach out to Steven Walters, the man responsible for penning this tasteful tale of tawdry turmoil. Walters proved to be incredibly gracious, answering each of my questions with vigor and poise. Which was reassuring, as many of his characters are less gracious and more bloodthirsty.
Hit the jump to check out what Walters’ thoughts on the comics medium, exploitation films, and the quest of artistic expression.
[OCTOBERFEAST is the greatest celebration of the year, a revelry dedicated to pop-culture’s most nutritious Halloween detritus. Plastic screams and artificial sweeteners have never been more bountiful. In the old country, villagers refer to the extended party as Satan’s Snacktime]
As you no doubt know, OCTOBERFEAST is the annual celebration of shock-and-awe entertainment, those dastardly bits and pieces that we can’t help but love with mouths agape and eyes closed. The same way that cavemen would streak past brontosaurus nests for cheap thrills, we need to scare ourselves silly sometimes. And to do this, we watch scene after scene of gruesome murders, horrifying mutations, and savage acts of violence.
Again, the reason we meet year-after-year to celebrate this tenth-month carnal carnival is the fact that there are deep-seated desires in all of us to explore the sweet ugliness. Unfortunately, there are those that think indecency has no place in entertainment. That depictions of decapitation are in poor taste. That zombie movies are not only insidious but also trite. Hell, this moral imposition isn’t a new idea, but the self-righteous are proliferating at unprecedented rates.
Fortunately, there are heroes amongst us.
In 2007, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up for the exploitation-throwback Grindhouse. This double-feature consists of two original flicks shown back-to-back which are also accompanied by faux-trailers. If nothing else, the experiment was a deal for the fans just in terms of economics: one regularly-priced ticket granted a viewer access to far more material than that which is provided by any standard flick.
With that being said, Grindhouse is also a horrific tour-de-force, a masterpiece for those who love blood and guts and gore and camp.
The first entry in the two-movie feature is Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. This flick is an over-top-zombie flick that sees Rose McGowan stealing the show not only with her scantily clad body, but also her firearm leg prosthesis. There’re gross-out moments with zombies exploding, laughs-a-plenty with some characters being more concerned with BBQ recipes than the end times, and conveniently missing reels. To top it all off, the movie has Bruce Willis.
That’s right – McClane himself.
On the other hand, Tarantino’s Death Proof presents a brand of terror that is more grounded in its intentions. This second flick sees Kurt Russell playing Stuntman Mike, a washed up stunt driver longing for the glory days of Hollywood during which the stunt people reigned supreme. To get his kicks now that he’s been replaced by CGI, Stuntman Mike offers hot babes rides in his car. Of course, there’s a catch: Mike’s stunt car is completely death proof for the driver, but nearly guaranteed to kill a passenger if it crashes.
Which it does. Because that’s what Stuntman Mike wants, and he gets what he wants. That is, of course, until he runs into a pack of bad-ass bitches that don’t take shit from anyone, including maniacs with film-industry experience.
Grindhouse is a rare treat, as it knows exactly what it is and revels in it. Tarantino and Rodriguez manage to simultaneously poke fun at the conventions of classic grindhouse flicks while paying homage and revering them. Additionally, clocking in at just over three hours, this cinematic collection is the perfect accompaniment for a cold, dank OCTOBERFEAST eve.