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Movie Books

  1. Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel [Amazon US]
    Film as a Subversive Art is an excellent book for artists, filmmakers, and anyone else that is interested in subversive art and film. Amos Vogel, the founder of the New York Film Festival, is insightful, incredibly knowledgeable, and a skilled writer. His political and ideological views are based around the somewhat existential and often bleak truths of twentieth century scientific research. Vogel himself alternates between a joyful optimism in many of his descriptions, and a bitter anger towards "bourgeois society" and the repression of subversive film. Vogel's countless first-hand experiences of the films he writes about and his philosophical leanings shape Film as a Subversive Art into a unique reading experience. --ryankelln for amazon.com From the beginning, the cinema has been a major target of censors, the state, and traditionalists afraid of its powerful impact, especially when manipulated by aesthetic and ideo- logical innovators and rebels. As a result, public cinema has often found it difficult to display openly some of man's most fundamental experiences. Today, however, neither fear nor repression seem able to stem an accelerating world-wide trend toward a more liberated cinema, in which subjects and forms hitherto considered unthinkable or forbidden are boldly explored.

    The attack on the visual taboo and its demystification by open display is profoundly subversive, for it strikes at prevailing concepts of morality and religion and thereby at law and order itself. Equally subversive is the destruction of old cinematic forms and "immutable" rules by new approaches to narrative style, camera work, and editing.

    Amos Vogel places this subversion of content and form within the context of the contemporary world view of science, philosophy, and politics. The aesthetic, sexual, and political subversives of the cinema are introduced to the reader as catalysts of social and intellectual change. There are special chapters on Nazi propaganda, the early Soviet Russian avant-garde, expressionism, surrealism, the counterculture, and the "forbidden subjects" of cinema (sex, birth, death, blasphemy). Also analyzed are the massive assaults on narrative, time, and space in modern cinema and the effectiveness and containment of filmic subversion.

    Each chapter focuses on a major aspect of this movement and is followed by a detailed examination of representative films; these include many banned or rarely seen works.

    The text is rounded out with more than 300 rare stills accompanied by unique, detailed captions designed to invite their "close reading".

    Amos Vogel has drawn on the experience of 25 years in film, exhaustive international research, and personal archives of over 20,000 titles and stills to produce a thought-provoking, controversial work that deals with areas of film rarely covered by standard histories and is simultaneously designed to test the limits of each reader's tolerance as well. --(from the book jacket)

  2. Cult Movies Stars (1991) - Danny Peary [Amazon.com]
    Cult Movie Stars sounds like a publisher's idea for a follow-up to Peary's best known books, but if it isn't in the same league as those, it's certainly worth owning. Peary deals with 750 performers, ranging from major stars like Dietrich, Davis and Bogart, to horror actors, skin-flick starlets and even British comedians (at last an American book which recognises the Sid James phenomenon, even if it does mistakenly say he was in Carry On Nurse). Certainly one can quibble about the selection criteria (De Niro is included but not Pacino; I looked in vain for Mariana Hill; and to bring the book up to date, perhaps the likes of Winona Ryder and Christian Slater should have been present) - but that would be to miss the point. This does not attempt to be a definitive reference book but an appealing dip into the world of cult stars - hence there is no attempt to provide complete filmographies, just a smattering of the stars' most interesting output.

    Peary writes: ĎMy intention is to get movie fans to seek out particular stars and show why others are so devoted to them.í His mini-essays succeed at this, communicating a real enthusiasm for cultural icons and obscure exploitation stars alike. His criticism is concise and full of insight - and he has a talent for useful subjective writing. Of Natalie Wood, he writes: ĎIt's such a relief when Santa gets her the home she dreams about in Miracle on 34th Street, when James Dean loves her in Rebel Without a Cause ...I just wish someone was there for her in Splendor in the Grass. She was my favourite actress and, like many, I get chills when, in that picture, she almost drowns.í
    Darren Slade

    [Book that got me started in being interested in offbeat cinema: About movie stars and their films who developed a cult audience. Riveting read. Limited availability.]

  3. Incredibly Strange Films [Amazon US] [Bought this book in Miami in the early nineties, part of a series, by Atomic Books]
    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...

  4. How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime [1book, Amazon US]
    A terrific book, loaded with great stories and anecdotes about the world of low-budget film making-- from its heyday in the 50's and 60's, to the 1980's, when the industry kind of petered out because the major studios began making the types of visceral horror, science fiction, and exploitation movies previously reserved for "quickie" independent producers like Mr. Corman. It was fun to read this book and rent some of the films as they were being discussed. Another plus: the book is peppered with informative and revealing guest essays by the likes of Francis Coppola, Joe Dante, Martin Scorcese, Jack Nicholson, and various other directors, actors, and producers who worked with and/or got their start with Roger Corman. Though most of the comments about Mr. Corman in these essays are predictably laudatory, we are also allowed to read the occasional critical or negative observation, which permits the reader to get a nicely balanced view of the subject. The book is rounded out by a great selection of photos from the dozens of movies covered. -- Joseph P. Menta, Jr [Life and times of Roger Corman according to Roger Corman]

  5. Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction (1993) - Scott Bukatman [Amazon US]
    As dense as it is deep, Bukatman's work is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in science fiction, postmodern theory, or the relationship between technology and human culture. The glowing reviews by Bruce Sterling and Larry McCaffery were well-deserved, and this book will have a permanent place on my bookshelf (right next to Storming the Reality Studio). I had never heard of Scott Bukatman before finding this book, but I now look forward to reading anything he writes in the future. -- alone@waste.org for amazon.com [...]

    Midnight Movies (1983) - Jeffrey Hoberman

    1. Midnight Movies (1983) - Jeffrey Hoberman [Amazon US]

      Written by Jeffrey Hoberman (who writes for the Village Voice) and Jonathan Rosenbaum (who writes for the Chicago Reader)

      Documents the midnight movie circuit exist for films unfit for mainstream consumption

      Chapters on the early careers of Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky, John Waters and George Romero

      References to Emile Durkheim and Parker Tyler in the second chapter "Cults, Fetishes and Freaks: Sex and Salvation at the Movies

  6. Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema - Eddie Muller [Amazon US]
    Vice Rackets! Narcotics! Nazis! Nudists! Cults! Wrestling Women! No sooner than the first movie camera was invented, it was put to sordid use. Grindhouse is a sexy and sardonic romp through the history of "adults only" cinema, from the roadshows and "hygiene" movies of the '30s, to the burlesque and vice movies of the '40s, to the Scandinavian Invasion of the '70s. Includes photos of rare posters and lobby cards as well as portraits of the auteurs of the films, such as Russ Meyer and David F. Friedman. --amazon.com

    From Booklist Before the advent of the corner video store, connoisseurs of sex and sensation sought the stuff they loved in grindhouses. Although the low-budget films these low-rent venues screened promised more lewdness, nudity, and weirdness than they delivered, some are monuments of ludicrous filmmaking. Perhaps the best known is Ed Wood's transvestite opus, Glen or Glenda, but it is just one of the daffy and scuzzy movies Muller and Faris note in their decade-by-decade tour of yesterday's prurience. As historically responsible scribes, the pair recognizes the role of such big-budget, more hard-core movies as Deep Throat in the demise of the grindhouse genre and recounts how a film now considered a genuine classic, Tod Browning's Freaks, was once double-billed with classic trash like Wages of Sin and Reefer Madness. Possessed of some reference value for collocating the many titles under which the same sleazy shows were repeatedly recycled, the book's most endearing aspect may be its many illustrations--a rogue's gallery of cheesy publicity for cheesier flickers. Mike Tribby for amazon.com

  7. Cinema 2: The Time-Image - Gilles Deleuze [Amazon US]
    Although Deleuze mentions that this book's aim is to make a typology on cinema, for readers, it will be the object of thought more than that. In this book, Deleuze considers many films in which time is not subordinate to movement any longer (the time-image). His way of developing theory is like Bergson's one on time and memory, but his theory of time has variations that are reflected in various films and becomes a profound notion of the world with dynamic extension. Deleuze proposes us not only new concepts through films but also the question: What is the world? Deleuze creates a system on cinema as same as he analyzes clearly what is new and what is different from the past films in films of neo-realism or the new wave. While many people have mentioned to genres in films, DeleuzeĀfs analysis of the border between the genres is one of the most precise.

    If you had "Cinema 1: The Movement-Image", this book would be more interesting for you because you could compare the two books. Moreover, this book treats so many films that you must find ones you have ever seen, which makes this book more fascinating.--A reader from Kobe, Japan for amazon.com

  8. Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984 - Cathal Tohill, Pete Tombs [Amazon US]
    Easily one of the most entertaining books I have read on the sex/horror movie subject(although most don't concentrate solely on sex/horror). The problem is that it's so well written that I ripped through it in no time at all. I suppose when you look at it it really isn't such a small book, it just felt like it. You can't really criticize something that makes you want keep reading, but I just wish there was more. [It also dedicates nearly 60 pages to Rollin's career while reserving its highest praise for Rollin's films and describing him as "a weaver of dreams."] --Sean McCabe for amazon.com

  9. Men, Women, and Chain Saws - Carol J. Clover [Amazon US]
    Before Men, Women, and Chain Saws, most film critics assumed that horror (especially slasher) films entail a male viewer sadistically watching the plight of a female victim. Carol Clover argues convincingly that both male and female viewers not only identify with the victim, but experience, through the actions of the "final girl," a climactic moment of female power. As the Boston Globe writes, Men, Women, and Chain Saws "challenges simplistic assumptions about the relationship between gender and culture... [Clover] suggests that the 'low tradition' in horror movies possesses positive subversive potential, a space to explore gender ambiguity and transgress traditional boundaries of masculinity and femininity." Be forewarned, though: Clover addresses an academic audience, so her language can be heavy going. -- via Amazon.com

  10. Necronomicon: The Journal of Horror & Erotic Cinema (1996) Andy Black [1 book, Amazon US]
    Necronomicon: Book one continues the singular, thought-provoking exploration of transgressive cinema begun by the much-respected and acclaimed magazine of the same name. The transition to annual book format has allowed for even greater depth and diversity within the journal's trademarks of progressive critique and striking photographic content. Includes:
    * Jean Rollin: The surreal and the sapphic
    * Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Exploitation or modern fairytale?
    * Barbara Steele: Icon of S/M horror
    * Frightmare: Peter Walker's psycho-delirium classic
    * Marco Ferreri: Sadean cinema of excess
    * Deep Throat: Pornography as primitive spectacle
    * Dario Argento: Tortured looks and visual displeasure
    * Last Tango in Paris: Circles of sex and death
    * H P Lovecraft: Visions of crawling chaos
    * Witchfinder General: Michael Reeves' classic of visceral violence
    * Herschell G. Lewis: Compulsive tales and cannibal feasts
    * Evil Dead: From slapstick to splatshtick [...]

  11. Movies of the 90s - Jurgen Muller [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Hey, did you realize you were making history when you went to see The Blair Witch Project, one of the most profitable movies ever made? Do you know what it took to recreate the sinking of the Titanic, what a jump cut is, or who the leading box office stars of the 90s are? These are just a few of the countless things you'll learn in this new book dedicated to the last ten years of celluloid history.

    With a total of 140 movies covering the years 1991 to 2000, this guide takes you from The Silence of the Lambs to Shall We Dance? to Magnolia, covering a wide range of genres, budgets, and cultures, and revealing details from behind the scenes.

    Packed full of photos and film stills, Movies of the 90s is an opulent factbook that any self-respecting moviegoer shouldn't be without.

  12. Movies of the 80s - Jurgen Muller [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Step right up and get your fill of 80s nostalgia with the movie bible to end all movie bibles. Weíve diligently compiled a list of 140 of the most influential movies of the 1980s thatís sure to please popcorn gobblers and highbrow chin-strokers alike. The 80s was a time for adventurers, an era of excess, pomp, and bravado. In the era when mullets and shoulder pads were all the rage, moviegoers got their kicks from flicks as wide-ranging as Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, When Harry Met Sally, and Blue Velvet. Without a doubt, sci-fi was the most important genre of the decade, with non-human characters like E.T. winning the hearts of millions while the slimy creatures from Aliens became the stuff of nightmares and movies like Ghostbusters and Back to the Future fused comedy and sci-fi to the delight of audiences everywhere. In fact, the 1980s saw the invention of a new reality, a movie-world so convincingly realóno matter now far-fetchedóthat spectators could not help but abandon themselves to it. Now thatís entertainment, folks.

  13. Movies of the 70s - Jurgen Muller [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    The 1970s: that magical era betwixt the swinging 60s and the decadent 80s, the epoch of leisure suits and Afros, the age of disco music and platform shoes. As war raged on in Vietnam and the cold war continued to escalate, Hollywood began to heat up, recovering from its commercial crisis with box-office successes such as Star Wars, Jaws, The Exorcist, and The Godfather. Thanks to directors like Spielberg and Lucas, American cinema gave birth to a new phenomenon: the blockbuster. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, while the Nouvelle Vague died out in France, its influence extended to Germany, where the New German Cinema of Fassbinder, Wenders, and Herzog had its heyday. The sexual revolution made its way to the silver screen (cautiously in the US, more freely in Europe) most notably in Bertolucci's steamy, scandalous Last Tango in Paris. Amidst all this came a wave of nostalgic films (The Sting, American Graffiti) and Vietnam pictures (Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter), the rise of the anti-hero (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman), and the prestigious short-lived genre, blaxploitation.

  14. Film Genre Reader III (2003) Barry Keith Grant (Editor) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    From reviews of the second edition: "The fascinating, well-chosen essays in this volume represent almost all of the recent (and often competing) trends in film scholarship and present significant revisions of earlier genre theories and analysis. Grant shows that the generic core, however constituted and established, is but one atom in a complex structure of film experience, response, and meaning." --Choice "A terrific collection of essays on film theory and genre criticism. . . . With its numerous stills and an excellent bibliography, this work is ideal as an academic text or as an informative read for film buffs." --Bloomsbury Review From reviews of the first edition: "The most pedagogically useful text on genre analysis because of the comprehensive nature of its scope." --Film Quarterly "Ought to be considered by anyone teaching a course on theory and criticism of the American cinema." --Communication Booknotes Since 1986, Film Genre Reader has been the standard reference and classroom text for the study of genre in film, with nearly 20,000 copies in print. Barry Keith Grant has again revised and updated the book to reflect the most recent developments in genre study. This third edition adds new essays on teen films, the question of genre hybridity, and neo-noir and genre in the era of globalization, along with an updated bibliography. The volume includes over thirty essays by some of film's most distinguished critics and scholars of popular film, including John G. Cawelti, David Desser, Thomas Elsaesser, Steve Neale, Thomas Schatz, Paul Schrader, Steve Neale, Vivian Sobchack, Janet Staiger, Linda Williams, and Robin Wood. --Book Description

  15. Profoundly Disturbing : Shocking Movies That Changed History! - Joe Bob Briggs [Amazon US]
    Briggs, host of the long-running cable shows Joe Bob's Drive-In Theatre and Monstervision, is an acknowledged king of cult movie history. From Blood Feast to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Briggs analyzes 20 films and points out their cultural significance. The book is not, as the London Evening Standard put it, "beyond the bounds of depravity," but rather a wryly amusing, informative study of productions that some publicly disparage and privately relish. Roger Vadim's 1956 And God Created Woman broke down sexual barriers. His directorial shaping of Brigitte Bardot into a sex symbol, despite handicaps of coarse voice, cold manner and expressionless face, is a lusty and intriguing French version of Pygmalion. The Svengali theme also relates to Deep Throat, when Linda Lovelace, its star, became a steamy sex goddess in the hands of husband Chuck Traynor. These two movies permanently altered the way the world views celluloid sex, and Briggs demonstrates how Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch did the same for violence. Briggs touches thoughtfully on controversial interpretations that The Wild Bunch film elicited before placing it in perspective as an artistically daring forerunner of modern action films. Shaft unleashed the blaxploitation boom, while The Exorcist turned Satan into a Hollywood high concept. The author also writes with insight and affection about such lurid enterprises as The Curse of Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The book merits attention from fans tired of high-minded essays about classics such as Citizen Kane, and explains why crass, tasteless pictures often make more impact than those released with the stamp of respectability. 50 illus. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc., amazon.com

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