The success of Blanche Knott’s Truly Tasteless Jokes spawned numerous rip-offs in the early 80s. Julius Alvin cashed in on the raunchy joke book craze with the Gross Jokes series. Gross Gifts, the entry from 1983, skips the usual dead baby material and focuses on “everything from gross cosmetics to gross movies to gross vacations.” The “gross movies” sections will appeal to slasher fans the most. Gross Gifts is a mouth-watering time capsule that showcases some of the great merchandise available during the golden age of slashers.
Books: Hidden among the books dedicated to S & M, hardcore bikers, and World War II atrocities is Grande Illusions: The Art and Technique of Special Make-Up Effects by Tom Savini. Alvin’s description explains the book is written by the “genius behind the blood and gore” movies Dawn of the Dead, Maniac, and Friday the 13th.
Cosmetics: Long time Fangoria readers might remember the old The Blood Boutique ads. Alvin provides a list of special effects materials available for cheap plus $2 shipping and handling. Young Savini enthusiasts could get their hands on everything from mortician’s wax to blood capsules thanks to Fango.
Movies: Along with mini reviews for trash classics Pink Flamingos and Salo, the 120 Days of Sodom, Alvin offers up his thoughts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Dawn of the Dead, Basket Case, and Snuff. After the reviews are black & white reproductions of posters for Squirm, Night of the Living Dead, and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things.
Periodicals: When this book was published Fangoria only cost $2.95 an issue. A “recent issue”, Alvin doesn’t include the issue number, features a machete murder from Friday the 13th, Part 2 and “gory pictures from the bloodiest horror and monster movies.” It’s nice to see Fangoria mentioned. Unfortunately, Alvin puts the mag in the same category as Hustler, Easy Rider, and Soldier of Fortune.
Posters: This chapter lists horror posters available from The Poster Pit. Slasher fans could order posters for Eaten Alive ($15), Hands of the Ripper ($4), Slumber Party Massacre ($8.50), and Terror Train ($8.25). Alvin states these posters “are great for Aunt Edna’s room.”
Music: This is the chapter that really had me saying “Man, I wish I had these in my collection.” In the Music to Maim By section, Alvin lists some of the soundtracks available from Fangoria Record Shelf. For $7.98 each plus $1.12 postage slasher fans could obtain soundtracks for Maniac, The Black Belly of the Tarantula, and Halloween II.
Video Games: I remember reading ads for the Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre video games on the back of Fangoria a long time ago but I didn’t know they were actually released. Halloween, described as “The Game Where He Comes Home”, features Laurie saving children from Michael’s murderous rampage. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, players introduce Leatherface’s chainsaw to a host of victims. These games sound like a lot of fun, but keep in mind the limitations of the technology at the time. The graphics had to be primitive at best.