Yesterday we took a gander at our first batch of ten books that every cult movie fan should have on their racks — if you haven’t checked it out, go here immediately! But then come back, we’ve got the next batch of material perfect for bathroom reading. But, jeez, have the decency to wipe it off before loaning it out, you sleazemonger.
Couple of quick notes:
– These are not ranked in order of best to last, worst to best, or Guttenberg to De Niro. This is just a collection of books you may want to take a look at. Below are titles 40-31, and we’ll be rolling out ten titles every day this week.
– Click the cover of the books to buy the goods, all the cool kids are doing it.
40. They Came From Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema (2004)
by Caelum Vatnsdal
While Canuxploitation is rightfully celebrated by knowing genre fans, it wasn’t so long ago that it was widely misunderstood and underappreciated by all but the most well versed film lover. The multi-talented Caelum Vatnsdal puts the record straight in this wonderfully researched and passionate dedication to the impact and legacy of Canadian films and filmmakers on horror cinema. Moving well beyond established directors like David Cronenberg and Bob Clark, Vatnsdal traces Canuck cinema from the 1930s, up through the slasher boom of the late 70s and early 80s, and into modern day with good humor and plenty of detail. Packed with photos and poster art, it’s a must own for anyone interested in Canadian cinema. – D
39. Zombies!: An Illustrated History of the Undead (2011)
by Jovanka Vuckovic
You don’t rock the kind of ink that Jovanka Vuckovic has without firm opinions on what you consider to be good and bad across the cinematic landscape. Decorated with horror legends and an epic Blade Runner sleeve, Vuckovic is committed to film and the history it represents. ZOMBIES: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE UNDEAD is her first major book. Though she served as Editor for Rue Morgue Magazine for six years, this was the first time she went solo on a scale this big. The Zombie-verse is huge and continues to grow every year. I was momentarily skeptical that she could cover both the idea to screen story of zombies while also giving justice to the multimedia presence those characters have, but I knew within the first few pages that I was wrong. She has an incredible command over everything horror and this is clearly a passionate sweet spot for the author. She not only covers the journey from 35mm to home video and beyond (uncovering titles that sent me on multiple searches), but she takes great care to track the changes in how the zombies are presented from decade to decade. Grab a plate of brains and crack this open. Foreward by the great George Romero. – G
38. Seagalogy: A Study Of The Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal (2007)
This could arguably be seen as nepotism, since lately Vern has been known to drop his particular brand of science here at Daily Grindhouse. But facts are facts, and the simple fact is that, anywhere he does it, Vern’s been doing this longer and better than just about anyone. His style is as funny as it is informed, and his genius is to keep you guessing at any given moment as to whether or not he’s being completely serious. My own take on Vern is that he’s one of the most sincere writers on film in any medium. Nobody writes a book covering every single Steven Seagal movie ever made without sincerity. I would bet big money that whoever fills bookshelves with “Chuck Norris Facts” have not seen even one Chuck Norris movie all the way through. Vern has done that, and I guarantee he could write a book on Chuck Norris if he had to. He just likes Steven Seagal better. That’s why his writing is so valuable – he’s just the right amount of crazy. It’s a little bit nuts to subject yourself to everything Steven Seagal has ever done, but it would be insane to suggest anyone else attempt it. Vern is doing the heroic service of venturing into the caverns and returning with news of where to find paydirt. He’s smart enough to know what differentiates a good movie from a bad one and a fun one from a bore. And he’s entertaining enough to make you want to search out the movies he recommends (and a few he doesn’t), even if his write-ups are entertaining enough on their own. Seagalogy is his magnum opus, but you can’t go wrong with his follow-up, Yippee-Ki-Yay Moviegoer!, and of course, his columns here at Daily Grindhouse are a beauty. – J
37. Danse Macabre (1982)
by Stephen King
A bit of a cheat, DANSE MACABRE was Stephen King’s non-fiction exploration of the history – and influence – of horror in books, radio, TV and, of course, movies. Written as a reflection on a course taught by King (called “Themes in Supernatural Literature”), the book considers lengthy, good-natured essays on the nature of terror, and includes a lengthy list of 100 fantasy/horror films (from between 1950-1980) that King believed contributed something of value to the genre. For budding horror film fans, the list was invaluable – and includes both well known classics, and plenty of (particularly at the time) lesser known cult picks. – D
36. The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of
Filmmaker Andy Milligan (2003)
by Jimmy McDonough
“If you’re an Andy Milligan fan, there’s no hope for you,” Psychotronic Magazine editor Michael J. Weldon (more on him later) famously wrote in his review of THE GHASTLY ONES. That may be true, but I’ll gladly take the hopelessness if it means being captivated by the soul-crushing world of one grindhouse’s most controversial auteurs. If you want to dig deep into the bowels of 42nd Street exploitation, there’s no better biography than Jimmy McDonough’s portrait of the man behind the likes of BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS, GURU THE MAD MONK and THE WEIRDO. McDonough’s book, based mostly on interviews conducted with Milligan and his assorted cohorts (“friends” seems to oversell his relationship with just about anyone) between 1983 and 1991, paints Milligan as a figure as divisive as his films – spiteful, dismissive, sadistic, judgmental, hypocritical – and somehow manages to make him, along with the world he inhabits, completely captivating. Milligan’s stage works and his battles with producer William Mishkin are impressive reads in particular, and McDonough’s use of Milligan’s own words for long stretches admirably take you deep into the depths of what the “grindhouse” experience is all about, even if you’ll never be able to wash the dirt from your soul. Tee hee! – P
For further reading: McDonough followed this up with his terrific Russ Meyer bio BIG BOSOMS AND SQUARE JAWS, and the films of Milligan are profiled specifically in Rob Craig’s GUTTER AUTEUR: THE FILMS OF ANDY MILLIGAN.
35. Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992)
by Rudolph Grey
Filmmaker Edward D. Wood Jr. rose to cult prominence thanks to the insults hurled at him in the Medved Brothers’ “The Fifty Worst Films of All Time,” which named him the “Worst Director of All Time,” but it took Rudolph Grey’s 1992 oral history of the man to solidify his history in the annals of cult movie lore. It was such an interesting story that Tim Burton made a movie based on it, which isn’t so impressive now that Burton’s basing movies on mildly gothic shopping lists, but it seemed impressive at the time. Culled from interviews conducted with just about everyone Wood had worked with, the book works as a complete biography though the stories of those who knew him, and the discrepancies between the stories just add to the mysterious allure of the man who just wanted to make movies. Seriously, my friend, can your heart stand to miss the shocking facts about Edward D. Wood, Jr.? – P
For further reading: For Wood’s own (exuberantly fictionalized) take on the Hollywood rat race, check out his book, er, Hollywood Rat Race.
34. Destroy All Movies!!! (2010)
by Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly
PUNKS ON FILM! Until I started reading Zack Carlson and Bryan Connoly’s insanely detailed tribute to the short term filmic obsession with punk, I had little idea of how much I needed it in my life. With information on over 1000 films (from REPO MAN to LIQUID SKY to RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), and interviews with many of the key figures in the both the punk music and punk film movement, it makes for an eye-popping, hilarious examination of a movement that I had only the loosest grasp upon. Beautifully put together, and impossible to put down. – D
33. Pretty In Pink: The Golden Age of Teenage Movies (1997)
by Jonathan Bernstein
This book, from a one-time writer for SPIN Magazine, is a highly subjective take on the teen-movie boom of the 1980s. Since I first read this book at a formative moment, it’s highly likely its style had an influence on my own writing. It covers the basics, such as HEATHERS, SAY ANYTHING, and the John Hughes films, in appropriate depth, but has a wide-ranging approach which also makes room for more esoteric areas of the genre such as SECRET ADMIRER, NIGHT OF THE COMET, and JUST ONE OF THE GUYS. I can’t find much information about what author Jonathan Bernstein has done since, but his sarcastic, concise, highly-descriptive language reads like a film historian welded to a stand-up comic. One of my favorite passages describes the entirely forgotten Kirk Cameron vehicle LISTEN TO ME as “an all-out abomination” and describes the star as having “beaming little button eyes and red lips” and “looking like a ventriloquist’s dummy that’s broken free of its terrified owner.” That’s the kind of entertaining yet thoroughly accurate descriptiveness I’m swinging for every time I step up to the plate. – J
32. Making Movies (1996)
by Sidney Lumet
Roger Ebert always said that when he was asked what book one should read to understand films, it was Sidney Lumet’s MAKING MOVIES. Both gentlemen have passed, but the advice still stands. What Lumet created is a very scholarly approach to the process of assembling a film, from idea to reality and all the pieces in between, but also a highly personal and critical memoir about the productions of some his most famous films like SERPICO, NETWORK, DOG DAY AFTERNOON and more. He writes frankly about both his successes and his perceived failures (THE WIZ) and in between are lessons that any filmmaker or fan of cinema should take note of. Filmmaking is a complex business, but reading this book is a complete joy. – G
31. Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms (2011)
by Shade Rupe
Through a collection of 27 interviews that span 25 years, Shade Rupe talks with grindhouse icons like Tura Satana, Divine, William Lustig, Alejandro Jodorowsky and many others that like to stay in the dark corners of the cinema including the legendary horror critic Chas. Balun. Rupe is never boxed in, he is never restrained in his questions, he just walks along the sticky floors of the dark theatres with his subjects as they tell their tales of the lost and found, highs and lows of exploitation cinema. DARK STARS RISING is a six-gun shooter of a book. This is just as much a love letter to films as it is a collection of interviews. In addition to the extensive Q&As, there is a collection of reviews that Rupe wrote for magazines like Scream. Are you going to be able to turn on the next popular gasbag of a film after hitting this classic? Probably not, but odds are if you’re reading this you’re sick fucker just like me. Come on… you know you want in. – G
For further reading: Similar compilations of excellent interviews include the ahead-of-its-time Re/Search Vol. 10: Incredibly Strange Films and Gene Gregorits’s Midnight Mavericks: Reports from the Underground.
Click here for Part 3: Picks 30-21
SEE YOU ON FORTY DEUCE,
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