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Incredibly Strange Films (1986) - V. Vale , Andrea Juno

Related: V. Vale - underground film - grindhouse film - Andrea Juno - American cinema - strange - 1986 - film

Incredibly Strange Films (1986) - V. Vale , Andrea Juno [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

I Bought this book in Miami in the early nineties, it is part of a series, by RE/Search. This is still the best movie on this kind of cinema, whether you like to call it cult, exploitation, underground or alternative. It was published in October 1986 and as such it is one of the first books on this subject. [Nov 2006]


RE/Search No. 10: Incredibly Strange Films is a book about American underground films edited by V. Vale, Andrea Juno, Jim Morton and Boyd Rice.

It features the work of filmmakers Russ Meyer, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Frank Henenlotter, Larry Cohen, Doris Wishman, David F. Friedman, Ed Wood, Jr., Radley Metzger, Joseph W. Sarno and genres women in prison film, mondo films, exploitation films, beach party films, Santo films and sexploitation films. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incredibly_Strange_Films [Nov 2006]

From the cover

Re/Search #10: Incredibly Strange Films is a functional guide to important territory neglected by the film-criticism establishment, spotlighting unhailed directors--Herschell Gordon Lewis, Russ Meyer, Larry Cohen and others--who have been critically consigned to the ghettos of gore and sexploitation films. In-depth interviews focus on philosophy, while anecdotes entertain as well as illuminate theory, Includes biographies, genre overviews, filmographies, bibliography, and A-Z of film...

Juno, A., Vale, V.(Ed). Incredibly Strange Films. RE/Search Vol. 10, RE/Search Publications, San Fransisco. 1988. Frank Henenlotter; Basket Case; H. G. Lewis; Blood Feast; Ray Dennis Steckler; Carolyn Brandt; Ted V. Mikels; Russ Meyer; Dick Bakalyan; Joe Sarno; David Friedman; Doris Wishman; Larry Cohen; Biker Films; J. D. Films; Beach Party Films; Women in Prison Films; Mondo Films; Santo; Ed Wood Jr.; Sexploitation Films; Educational Films; Industrial Jeopardy Films; Young Playthings; Wizard of Gore; God Told Me To; Blast of Silence; Daughter of Horror; Spider Baby; George Romero; Notes: Quotations; A-Z Film Personalities; Essays; Favourite Film Lists; Bibliography.

Excerpt from the introduction

The following is an excerpt from the introduction of the RE/Search book entitled Incredibly Strange Movies by V. Vale and Andera Juno.

This is a functional guide to territory largely neglected by the film-criticism establishment--encompassing tens of thousands of films. Most of the films discussed test the limits of contemporary (middle class) cultural acceptability, mainly because in varying ways they don't meet certain "standards" utilized in evaluating direction, acting, dialogue, sets, continuity, technical cinematography, etc. Many of the films are overtly "lower class" or "low brow" in content and art direction. However, a high percentage of these works disdained by the would-be dictators of public opinion are sources of pure enjoyment and delight, despite improbable plots, "bad" acting, or ragged film technique. At issue is the notion of "good taste," which functions as a filter to block out entire areas of experience judged--and damned--as unworthy of investigation.

The concepts of "good taste" are intricately woven into society's control process and class structure. Aesthetics are not an objective body of laws suspended above us like Plato's supreme "Ideas"; they are rooted in the fundamental mechanics of how to control the population and maintain the status quo.

Our sophisticated, "democratic" Western civilization regulates the population's access to information, as well as its innermost attitudes, through media--particularly film and video. The power to literally create desire, fashion, consumer trends, opinions, aspirations and even one's very identity is expressed through film and video. This force--power through persuasion--reaches deep into the backbrain, rendering more brutal, physical control tactics obsolete. Since the '60s, film has ceased being a popular creative medium.

The whole '60s avant-garde filmmaking, from Brakhage to [Bruce] Connor [Conner?], was based on the cheap availability of 16mm film, cameras, etc; many of the films in this book were originally shot in 16mm. After this became too expensive, Super-8 became the medium of choice. Several years ago, the major manufacturers began de-emphasizing professional-quality Super-8 cameras, film stocks, etc, saying, "People don't really want it. Editing is too hard for most people, and everyone's switching to video, anyway." The result: the number of low-budget films being produced has dropped drastically.

The value of low-budget films is: they can be transcendent of expressions of a single person's individual vision and quirky originality. When a corporation decides to invest $20 million in a film, a chain of command regulates each step, and no one person is allowed free rein. Meeting with lawyers, accountants, and corporate boards are what films in Hollywood are all about.

So what makes films like Herschell Gordon Lewis' The Wizard of Gore or Ray Dennis Steckler's The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies worthwhile? First of all: unfettered creativity. Often the films are eccentric--even extreme--presentations by individuals freely expressing their imaginations, who throughout the filmmaking process improvise creative solutions to problems posed either by circumstance or budget--mostly the latter. Secondly, they often present unpopular--even radical--views addressing social, political, racial or sexual inequities, hypocrisy in religion or government; or, in other ways they assault taboos related to the presentation of sexuality, violence, and other mores. (Cf. George Romero's Dead trilogy which features intelligent, problem-solving black heroes, or Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! which showcases tough girls outwitting--and even physically outdoing--sexist men.) Thirdly, occasionally films are made of such unique stature (Cf. Daughter of Horror) as to stand virtually outside any genre or classification, thus extending the boundaries of what has been done in the medium, as well as providing--at best--inexplicably marvelous experiences.

--Vale and Juno, 1985 via http://www.geocities.com/aychepling/movie.html [Apr 2005]

Jim Morton

Incredibly Strange Films RE/Search #10
A Guide to Deviant Films
Jim Morton(Editor)

Classic collection edited by 'Trashola' publisher Jim Morton and informed by work of Psychotronic pioneer Michael Weldon. Features interviews with Frank Henenloter, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Ray Dennis Steckler, Ted V. Mikels, Russ Meyer, Dick Bakalyan, Joe sarno, David Friedman, Doris Wishman and Larry Cohen; "genre" articles on Mondo, Juvenile Deliquents, LSD, Women in Prison, Bikers, Beach Party, Santo, Educational, Sexploitation and Industrial Jeoprady films, by Jim Morton, Boyd Rice and Richard Prelinger; A-Z Directory of Film Personalities and Favorite Films. Morton's study of neglected 60's culture, Pop Void #1 can still be found. --http://www.postfun.com/xre/newvser.html [Apr 2005]

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