Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cult Movies [1]

1981, 1985 Dell Trade edition
Danny Peary
Cult Movies: The Classics, the Weird, and the Wonderful
Original price $14.95, purchase price $6.00
Very worn paperback with stains and split spine

While I think that Peary is a good writer, many of the movies he covers here sound unpleasant and/or boring.  For many years I've just read the reviews of the movies I like, mostly classics like All About Eve and The Wizard of Oz, and skipped over things like The Brood and The Wild Bunch.  Did you know that The Brady Bunch was almost named The Brady Brood?  Yes, that's TV trivia, and if you care, you probably already know that.  Which brings me to another problem with this book.  Some of these movies are no longer cult movies, either because the cults have faded away, or because things like the Internet have mainstreamed quirkiness.  It's no longer isolated bunches (or broods) of fans who feel like they're the only ones who have discovered or at least truly appreciated a lost gem of a film.  With IMDB and other discussion forums, fans can find each other, even if they live on different continents.  (Or you can do what I do, and generally lurk without commenting.)

On the other hand, it's hard to find other lengthy reviews, let alone analyses, of the movies Peary covers, so his book still serves a purpose.  If I rated the book just for the movies I care about, it would probably be a B.  A less squeamish viewer/reader might get more out of the rest of the book.  Whether Peary's left-wing Baby-Boomer perspective is a plus or a minus is up to you.  I will note that he's not as bad as the Medveds in concentrating mostly on recent releases.  There are a lot of 1970s movies here, and eight more (12.5%) for 1968 alone, but he does include selections from each decade of the sound film.

I liked this book enough originally, reading it in the late '80s at about age 19, when it opened up a whole other world for me (admittedly some of which I immediately wanted to forget) that I went on to buy the sequels, which we'll get to in '83 and '88.

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