• Book Review: Swedish Sensationsfilms By Daniel Ekeroth

    Written by Daniel Ekeroth
    Published by: Bazillion Points
    Released on: 4/01/2011
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    This latest offering from Bazillion Points is author Daniel Ekeroth’s Swedish Sensationsfilms, a 328 page tome that’s ultimately a pretty handy guide to the world of Swedish exploitation films. Ekeroth’s book starts out with an introductory chapter that introduces us to the phenomena of the ‘sensationsfilms’ and it’s uniquely Swedish history, noting the progression of the movement in relation to censorship laws in the country and the rise and fall of theatrical play and the advent of the VCR. It’s a solid primer that basically sets up the ‘guide book’ aspect of the publication to come shortly.

    From there, we’re treated to an interesting and rather revealing interview with the undisputed goddess of Swedish cult cinema, Christina Lindberg, who goes into quite a bit of detail about her work starting from how she got into acting and modeling, how it affected her life, and what it was like working on her most infamous picture, Thriller, with reputedly bizarre director Bo Arne Vibenius. Lindberg is gracious for her career and quite humble while discussing her time in front of the camera with Ronny Bengtsson and her legions of loyal fans will enjoy reading what she’s been up to since retiring from acting.

    From there, Ekeroth’s book launches into an alphabetically indexed review book covering over two hundred Swedish films from directors as varied as Ingmar Bergman (arguably Sweden’s best known cinematic export on an international and critically acclaimed level) to Joe Sarno (sure, he’s American but he made some interesting movies in Sweden in his time) to Mats Helge Olsson who pumped out movie after movie in the eighties and probably remains best known for his amazing Ninja Mission.

    Ekeroth’s writing style is sometimes blunt. He doesn’t waste time elaborating on films he doesn’t enjoy and will sometimes cut things short when there was likely more that could have been said about certain pictures. That said, there’s always something to be said for brevity and succinctness, so that’s maybe not so much a criticism as it is an observation. He’s quite open about what he likes and dislikes about t he pictures he’s reviewed here and frequently cuts right to the chase. His tastes seem to appreciate the more exploitative fare covered here, as he loads praise on films like the aforementioned Ninja Mission and the sorely underrated War Dog (a personal favorite and a film that really should have an infinitely larger cult following than it does) while dismissing some of the softer and more formulaic sex films.

    He does show a genuine apprecation for many of his country's filmmakers; not just Bergman and Vibenius and Helges but also lesser known but equally talented types like Mac Ahlberg and Arne Mattson. He also points out contributions from people culled from outside the Swedish film industry, such as Dennis Hopper, David Carradine and Lee Hazlewood and notes how and where their contributions fit in.

    The book is nicely illustrated with plenty of black and white stills and poster reproductions, many of which North American readers will likely have never seen before (though the advertised color insert advertised wasn’t included in the pre-release copy sent for review). The painted cover art from Wes Benscoter is a nice touch as well and the back pages, which include a list of 'Twenty Sensationsfilms To See Before You Die' and an essay on where the Swedish exploitation film is at these days, bring things to a nice close. While ultimately this book might not offer as much history and insight into the ‘sensationsfilms’ phenomena, it’s absolutely a worth reference guide for those with an interest in the subject matter and looking for a way to dig deeper into the specifics and peculiarities of Sweden’s cinematic junk food. Where else are you going to learn about films like Dirty Fingers, Scorched Heat, The Guesthoust Of Evil, Mona's Secret Sex Dreams and the wonderfully titled How Marie Met Fredrik, Rebus The Donkey, Ploj The Kangeroo, And... from the aforementioned Mr. Vibenius?