Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies

1986, first edition, from Woodbury Press
Phil Hardy and company
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies
Original and purchase price unknown
Good condition hardcover with worn dustjacket

Considering how many books haven't lived up to my memories of them, it was an extra pleasant surprise to find that this book is the best work of film criticism I've read since Harmetz's The Making of "The Wizard of Oz."  It's even more remarkable considering that I'm not a sci-fi fan and only bought this book to help in my collection of bad movies.  Yes, there is a fair share of Plan Nine et al., some of which Hardy and his contributors greet with amusement, some with annoyance, but the capsule reviews are generally interesting, yes, even on the likes of A Clockwork Orange.  They take a chronological approach, from 1895 (Lumiere) to 1985, with films alphabetical within each year. 

Although this is a British publication (with such oddities as "blackman" as one word), most of the movies are understandably American.  Still, they do have films from around the world, not just their own U.K. and of course Japan (Godzilla etc.), but even such curios as De Lift, a Dutch film about a killer elevator.  (Weird, but maybe not any weirder than the American movie The Stuff, about killer yogurt.)  There are good insights into the changing nature of cinema, not just sci-fi, and the book held my interest, despite being 400 pages of tiny font.  And the book does capture that time when Star Wars had changed everything but computer animation hadn't yet come along.

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