“Shock Value” dir. Dino Everett (2014)

Jason Zinoman’s 2011 book “Shock Value” was a fascinating look at the creation of several transgressive and classic horror films of the 1970s that not only redefined the genre, but Hollywood as a whole (“Night of the Living Dead,” “Last House on the Left,” “The Exorcist,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Halloween,” “Alien” to name a few). One of the best parts of Zinoman’s book was in exploring the roots of these films and filmmakers, specifically film students at the University of Southern California (USC) during the early 1970s. Many of these student films were horror-themed and many of these films either influenced these great films or whose filmmakers went on to play an integral part in Hollywood later.

USC Cinema Archivist Dino Everett has assembled many of these classic (but not seen for years) short films for his new feature-length anthology called “Shock Value.” Among the films featured are: two versions of Dan O’Bannon’s “Blood Bath” short and “Good Morning Dad,” John Carpenter’s “Captain Voyeur,” Charles Adair’s “The Demon,” and Terrence Winkless’s “Judson’s Release.”  While I’m excited to see all of these, I am most eager to see “Judson’s Release,” which was written by Alec Lorimore. I saw “Judson’s” many years ago on HBO and it scared me to death. The plot later formed the basis for the popular film “When a Stranger Calls” and while “Stranger” had its effective moments, “Judson’s” was much more terrifying.

The film just premiered at USC last week and should be hitting theaters and film festivals in the coming months. Dave says check it out!

For more information about “Shock Value,” there’s a great overview at the link below:


“Searching for Dave Chappelle” by Jason Zinoman


Determining the reason why Dave Chappelle walked away from a rumored $50 million deal with Comedy Central when he was ostensibly on top of the American pop culture pyramid is a parlor game many comedy and entertainment junkies have engaged in for nearly a decade.  New York Times writer Jason Zinoman doesn’t really present any new theories in his insanely readable 54 page Amazon Kindle Single “Searching for Dave Chappelle,” but it’s the best profile on Chappelle’s career I’ve ever read and provides a lot of food for thought not only about comedy, but also about race, success, fame, spirituality, and happiness.   Along with Joe Eszterhas’s “Heaven and Mel” and Joshua Davis’s “John McAfee’s Last Stand,” “Searching for Dave Chappelle” is a fine example of how damn good a Kindle Single can be.

And if you like what you read, you should really pick up Zinoman’s terrific book on 1970s horror films “Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror.”