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Engaging, informative and highly humorous chronicle concerning Sweden's sensationsfilms, a little-known genre that covers soft and hardcore films of the 50's, 60's and 70's, ligonberry westerns (Swedish spaghetti westerns?!), cult films, seedy crime dramas, political thrillers and 'Kicker' flicks (imagine 'Clockwork Orange' in Stockholm) along with other noteworthy oddities, as well as those who starred, directed and produced them. Prior to reading this delightful tome, I thought Sweden's only exports were meatballs, Ingmar Bergman, cheese, suicide and Christina Lindberg. Little did I know.
The format is simple, for the most part - a one paragraph synopsis, another detailing fun facts about the producer, director and actors, accompanied by any social or political revelations that correlate with the film or timeframe, followed by a third paragraph peppered with the author's appraisal and often caustic and scathing insight on any or all of these factors. It makes for an entertaining read, though not necessarily an intellectual one, but there are already way too many heady re-evaluations of grindhouse, sex and exploitation, Eurosleaze and giallo, cult and midnite movie filmbooks flooding the market that take themselves too seriously. This isn't one of them, and therein lies its worth.
I learned many things within these pages, but several stuck with me - in most reviews, author Daniel Ekeroth cites the offensive elements that make these films worthy of inclusion (early examples of nudity, extreme violence, etc.), but in one he lists "non-consensual sex with a dog". See, I've been a dog owner most of my life and never knew there was such a thing as consensual sex with a dog...now I'll have to re-evaluate those flirtatious looks I get from my female canine companion periodically...
Another noteworthy and hysterical thing that appalled the author was a woman using a kielbasa sausage that's about fifteen inches long and as wide as a beercan as a masturbatory aid in a porno film; the size and girth didn't bother him so much as the fact that it's comprised of only 17% meat! You learn something new every day...
The book is packed with B+W pictures, posters and press releases of every film entry, and there are two color sections as well, so it's got great graphic appeal too (but keep it away from the kiddies), and the actors in each flick are listed. The films are listed alphabetically, but unfortunately in Swedish/Danish, so a quick reference for us yanks is impossible, but this is a minor quibble. A history of Swedish censorship is chronicled so we can understand how rigidity and laxness came to ebb and flow over time, as well as the unforseen and unwelcome byproducts that came with them (child pornography, gang violence, brothels everywhere, and yet homosexuality was considered a mental illness). This might account for the high suicide rate...
A Rogues Gallery biography/filmography of all the major actors and directors is included near the book's end, and we are then treated to a glossary of curious Swedish culture and understanding of the region and nearby countries, where we find that most, if not all, of the holidays are comprised of Swedes "being swept up in complete mayhem with violence, delirium, drinking and countless brief sexual relationships". I'm planning my trip as I write this.
A book that's as much fun as it is informative is a rare commodity, but this one fits the bill. When you see the pic of author Daniel Ekeroth on the rear flap and find out he's been in many deathmetal bands and has written books on them as well, it's hard not to hear the voice of Skiwsgaar from 'Metalocalypse' as you read this, but I mean that as praise - we're yanks, for chrissakes, whatyd'ya expect??? Buy this book - it's a Swedish Sensation!