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January 2, 2006

Good Night, and Good Schlock

Back when all this foolishness started, I was simply an unabashed B-movie fan. Next thing I knew, thanks to DVD Talk honcho Geoff Kleinman, I was a fan with a column. Now, after much handwringing, I've decided to end CineSchlock-O-Rama -- my five-year celebration of fringe cinema. But I remain and always will be a B-movie fan.

I used to tell folks I loved "bad movies." I've since realized that's a flawed statement. No entertaining movie is truly bad. Production value. Acting. Special effects. Ultimately, none of that really matters. Is it entertaining? That's the overriding test and why I find just as much joy in the rough hewn gems of a Herschell Gordon Lewis as I do the blistering brilliance of Hitchcock, Leone or Welles.

Maybe I'm just wired different, yet it's how I feel, and followers of my column affirmed this strange affinity. You, the CineSchlockers, shared in and fanned my enthusiasm through the years. For that, I'm most grateful.

While yours truly may be saying "So long!" to schlock business, I'm leaving y'all in equally deranged hands -- keep an eye peeled for an all-new genre column!!! DVD Stalk will feature a half-dozen of my most demented DVD Talk cohorts holding forth on all manner of horror and cinematic sin. I'm certain you'll dig it. In fact, CineSchlockers who regularly receive my e-mail missives are already subscribed!

Who knows, maybe this schlockmeister may even join in now and then. For the moment, though, I think I'm just going to enjoy being a fellow CineSchlocker.

In schlock,

(Check out MySpace!)

After the jump: CineSchlock-O-Retrospective


It all started with Piranha. Chicken pecked my country-fried review into the DVD Talk forum as an ode to the world's greatest living drive-in movie critic, Joe Bob Briggs. His gospel of blood, breasts and beasts would soon provide the inspiration for CineSchlock-O-Rama.


31 flicks were snatched from VHS oblivion thanks to CineSchlocker vigilance! Yet I'm sad to say, 34 more remain on the lam, lost to the digital domain. Classicks such as Food of the Gods, Mirror Images II and a personal passion, Project: Metalbeast. (Kane "Jason Voorhees" Hodder won't miss my quizzing him about that one!)


Discovering flicks and sharing "Ya gotta see this!" reviews with fellow fans is really a columnist's greatest reward. Six Days in Roswell is a prime example. I became so enthralled with the docu-comedy, from the makers of Trekkies, that I headed off to Roswell myself.


Speaking of Roswell, I'd more typically try to help CineSchlockers feel like they were tagging along on geek treks to Comic-Con, Chiller or Fangoria. But my proudest moment was closer to home -- The Texas Chainsaw Road Trip. (Or, wait, was it when I got to go Behind the Grue of Blood Feast 2!?!)


You'd ramble incoherently too if you subjected yourself to 24-O-Thon: Buns of Steel. While quite popular, my attempt to out Jack Bauer, um, Jack Bauer wasn't without its lessons -- like DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!!!

- Similar hurrahs: Lost in Space, Planet of the Apes, Police Academy, Critters, Tremors and Battlestar Galactica.

- Carrie White's telekinetic she-devils

- Roger Corman's hungry, hungry dinos and naughty nurses

- Plus a whole slew of Blair Witch parodies.


I've always been so struck by how nice folks in this business are. All told, however, there just isn't another class act like Andy and Arlene Sidaris. Not only did they give me a great interview, Andy both wrote and phoned to thank me personally.

- Character acting legends: R. Lee Ermey, Clint Howard and Austin Pendleton

- Genre auteurs: David Cronenberg, Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Lloyd Kaufman and Rob Zombie

- Fan fave: Dog the Bounty Hunter


In 2005, I embraced blogging and quick-take reviews in an attempt to squeeze schlock into my ever-dwindling free time. How better to spend said time than perusing Paris Hilton's podcasts? Her bons mots would soon spur my own schlockcasts, which some would argue were the ultimate death knell of the column. Dern you, Paris!

Click for CineSchlock-O-Rama archives.

Posted by G. Noel Gross at January 2, 2006 5:33 PM



Thanks for all the years of terrific reviews and articles. Your column has always been a highlight of my week & your reviews have led me to some real gems I may not have discovered otherwise.

Best of luck in the future.

Posted by: Mike Silvester at January 2, 2006 7:18 PM

Thanks for bringing us these reviews and for doing it with emotion and passion. I really enjoyed this section of DVDTalk and in fact this was how I discovered

Good luck in everything you decide to do!

Posted by: Angel Melendez at January 2, 2006 8:55 PM

Sorry to hear this, Noel.

As one of your frequent tipsters, it's nice to see that many pieces of good schlock have been rescued from oblivion. May the others see the light of digital day. The jump to podcasts was one of the best things for this column, and hearing of the end of it just saddens me.

For CineSchlock, this is my "GOODBYE" spelled in rocks moment (if you're an avid M*A*S*H fan, you'll get that).

Keep in touch with me via e-mail, Noel. I would appereciate that dearly.

I would like to end this message with a quote:

"It's the end. But the moment has been prepared for."

-Tom Baker, The Fourth Doctor, DOCTOR WHO

Posted by: Kyle Palkowski at January 2, 2006 10:21 PM

I've had your emails though to my inbox for quite some time now and even though I didn't read every one, there were some real gems to make me pause read and smile. I grew up being able to watch the "video nasties" of the '80s in the UK and I would always seek out the lower budget and less mainstream titles (plus an avid reader of Fangoria and the like). Your column reminded me of those heady days.... Ah, the memories. :)

All the best in whatever you choose to do.


Posted by: Jon Wilson at January 3, 2006 6:42 AM


From someone who has read you for years, I just want to say thanks. You've taken one for the team -- by viewing and reviewing hundreds of films for us. You've picked the cream of the crop (or the dregs of the barrel) for us to either buy, rent, or bypass. I know I've added many a B-film to my Netflix or Blockbuster queue thanks to your reviews.

I haven't always agreed with your reviews, but at least you've pointed me in the direction of those more-obscure titles that won't get the mainstream press. Many a film have I shown to others and said something along the lines of, "Isn't this one great?" Generally, they didn't agree with me in the least, but once in awhile I find a kindred lover of low-budget horror or sci-fi.

I was one of those readers who sort of wandered away from the podcasts and blog reviews, but thank you for years of what you did. You sent me a couple discs from your bag of goodies years ago -- perhaps it's time for me to actually break them out and watch them, in memoriam. You have really been the only thing I've read at DVDTalk.

Posted by: Scott at January 3, 2006 7:51 AM


Thanks for the memories. Remember, we'll always have Paris.


Posted by: don varnedore at January 5, 2006 7:05 PM

C'mon Noel! This doesn't bode well for the New Year.

I got a tad bit pissed when CineSchlock-O-Rama seemed to be put in the corner a few months back, but since I consistently respected, enjoyed, and laughed at your work, I continued to come back. You were one of the few reviewers whom I trusted enough to depart with my hard-earned cash on a blind buy. I can't give higher praise.

Good luck with whatever you do in the months and years ahead. Oh, and by the way, The Devil's Rejects was slightly better than High Tension (largely due to the presence of Sid Haig and Mary Woronov) but I should have mentioned that earlier.

I'll miss your wit and insight. Hope to catch up with you after you are paroled and/or pop up here again.


Posted by: joe frank at January 5, 2006 7:24 PM

While I did admire your enthusiasm for the genre, I always felt your reviews just weren't appropriate for a DVD review site. Glossing over transfer quality and audio issues like they're secondary is a huge error. I also never appreciated your usage of the Joe Bob Briggs ratings. Leave that to the master.

Good luck with your endeavors, so long as they aren't reviewing discs in your haphazard fashion.

Posted by: NotAFan at January 6, 2006 6:01 PM

>Glossing over transfer quality and audio issues
>like they're secondary is a huge error.

Not that Noel requires a defense, and I certainly don't want to sound like a sycophant, but this was not my experience with his reviews.

In particular, I recall when one forum member asked for recommendations of DVDs released after a certain date. I recommended Romero's MARTIN. Noel took great pains to point out that the recent release, at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, hurt the film, originally shot at a 1.33:1 ratio. He went so far as to post frames from the original and the recent release to demonstrate how much was lost by the 1.85:1 ratio, which like most I assumed was the original format.

Also, I can only assume that since almost all transfers of drive-in movies are such an improvement over the grainy, sliced films we first watched, that any comment about quality seemed almost redundant -- although, as pointed out above, he would discuss transfer quality.

Finally, I read Noel's reviews and essays largely for their humor and insight into the film's contents. These gems will be missed.

Posted by: jack white at January 9, 2006 12:22 PM

Jack: I think it was my DVD Talk cohort Adam Tyner who chimed in on MARTIN. But your overall premise is true. My a/v ire or praise were reserved for worst and best practices. Others were far more disposed to opine on excessive edge enhancement or insufficient rear channel separation. Still, I reckon NotAFan's criticism is fair.

Posted by: G. Noel Gross at January 9, 2006 2:00 PM

Actually, Noel, it was you who alerted me to the aspect ratio problems with MARTIN:

>[From "People love lists" blog comments ... ]
>While the new extras are nice on the latest
>Martin disc, it's important to realize the aspect
>ratio is seriously out of whack ... [link]
>Posted by: G. Noel Gross at May 26, 2005

Again, given the quality of the drive-in movies we originally watched, it is hard to take audio/visual "shortcomings" too seriously as those movies make their way onto disc.

A big budget, high production value theatrical release from the '70s should be expected to have an excellent transfer and great sound, but I want to know more about the content and extras on a $7.99 release of Brainiac (my all-time schlock fave that deserves lashish treatment at some point).

For me, at least, you focused on what was most important. Again, happy trails and please pop up here when you get scent of something good coming down the pike.

Posted by: jack white at January 9, 2006 5:54 PM

Oh, man, you've got a better memory than I do!

Don't schlock and drive. (And thanks for the kind words!)

Posted by: G. Noel Gross at January 9, 2006 6:05 PM

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