Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Japanese Tie-in #1: AQUARIUS (a.k.a. STAGE FRIGHT)

by Michael Gingold

What’s a movie tie-in paperback collector to do when he’s acquired almost all the English-language books he’s been looking for, and the few that are left are proving maddeningly elusive? Start seeking out titles in other languages. Japan is an especially fertile source, and if you happen to have a Japanese bookstore in your city -- especially one with used stock -- you can unearth all kinds of unexpected oddities. The U.S. never saw a novelization of Spike Lee’s GIRL 6, but guess what I found on the shelves of Manhattan’s Book Off…

One of the very first I acquired, though, was via an on-line dealer. My collector’s focus is on horror titles, and when I saw that this particular seller had a Japanese tie-in for AQUARIUS, the Michele Soavi slasher film better known as STAGE FRIGHT, I did a bit of a double take, as tie-ins for Italian horror movies from any country outside of Italy itself are few and far between. I hadn’t really considered going after Japanese tie-ins before, in part because I simply can’t read the language; in certain cases, though, you can look at the pictures, and that proved to be the case with AQUARIUS.

Published in 1987 and credited to “Lew Cooper” (the pseudonym Luigi Montefiore, a.k.a. George Eastman, used as his screenwriting nom de plume on this movie), the 215-page book opens with eight pages of color photos from the film, including a few gory images I’ve never seen anywhere else. Interspersed throughout the text are many more black-and-white stills, a number of them also rarities. A number of the Japanese tie-ins for locally produced features that I’ve picked up since are similarly illustrated, but very few that adapt movies from other countries, making AQUARIUS a rare bird for Italian-horror enthusiasts. I have no idea how faithful the adaptation is, nor can I judge the quality of the writing, but the copious images make this one a highlight of any collection.

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