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THE WATCHDOG BARKS


WELCOME to VIDEO WATCHDOG 181, our first issue of 2016! Any issue assembled during the holiday season is prone to a spirit of nostalgia, but this issue particularly so, for me, as it coincided with my subscribing to the online archives of my city’s newspaper, THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER.


I initially took advantage of the free trial offer because I was curious to learn more about the history of Cincinnati’s burlesque and adult the- aters, whose newspaper ads I vaguely remem- bered from childhood but all of which had vanished by the time I could actually patronize such places. I was surprised to learn that the Gayety Theatre, the city’s live burlesque house, had played host to the likes of Tempest Storm, Tura Satana, Virginia Bell, and even Ann Howe (immortalized in the trailer of THE SMUT PED- DLER) at different times during the 1960s, when I was attending only kiddie matinees. Those ads then led me to other discoveries: coverage of Richard Kiel’s 1962 visit to Cincinnati to pro- mote EEGAH!; Audrey “Olga” Campbell’s 1949 engagement announcement; a local reporter’s telephone interview with Stanley Kubrick prior to the release of DR. STRANGELOVE; a columnist’s account of his breakfast with an impish Peter Lorre on the occasion of his December 1948 in- person appearance at our RKO Albee Theater. Speaking of the Albee, I found the ad for the double bill of THEATER OF BLOOD and EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX that was playing there on the very day their cashier Donna and I first met. I learned that the International 70, where I saw SNUFF among many other films, had played host to Jess Franco’s SUCCUBUS in 1969, and to Tod Browning’s LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT in 1927, when it was known as The Palace Theater. And what I had always remembered as a 12th birthday viewing of IN COLD BLOOD— the first movie I’d seen downtown in half a lifetime—turned out to have actually taken place in late February or early March, when I was still 11, for some reason now lost to memory.


As you can see, it wasn’t long before I realized that this archive not only put me in possession of my city’s history with film, but my own. Unfortunately, the ENQUIRER’s listings for the Plaza Theater in Norwood, where I grew up, were erratic, so I’ve not been able to pin down when I had my first experience in a movie theater with THE INCREDIBLE SHRINK- ING MAN, but I now know that I saw my first Mario Bava film on September 23, 1963 (CALTIKI, THE IMMORTAL MONSTER); my first Franco film (THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF) on May 13, 1967; and that I last saw the Mexican horror film BLACK PIT OF DR. M in English on June 18, 1966. Most significantly, as I men- tioned in the opening pages of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, my personal fascination with Bava began when I happened to see, in close proximity, KILL, BABY... KILL! and SPIRITS OF THE DEAD, which made me terribly curious about the little girl ghost char- acter shared by the Bava and Fellini films. Not only was I able to determine that I saw KILL, BABY... KILL! for the first time on March 19, 1972 and SPIRITS OF THE DEAD on April 1 (a two-week difference)—but that my best friend died two weeks after that, on April 12, which also happened to be the day I saw A CLOCKWORK ORANGE for the first time. That film became the subject of the first review I submitted to CINEFANTASTIQUE, at some point during the two weeks following his death, when I stayed home from school. I can now look back at those four weeks with greater comprehen- sion as the most decisive month of my life. In that four week stretch, I became me.


Should your local newspaper offer online access to its archives, I would recommend taking the time to peruse it. You might be surprised how much of your own biography as a movie-goer is hiding there in plain sight, awaiting your discovery.


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Tim Lucas 3

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