Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Unruly Pleasures: The Cult Film and its Critics

A book review this time. Unruly Pleasures: The Cult Film and its Critics edited by Xavier Mendik and Graeme Harper is a collection of essays on, obviously, cult movies. Although all the essays were written by academics they’re mercifully free of the psychoanalytic jargon that makes so many scholarly books on film such heavy going. In fact they’re relatively free of academic jargon in general. Imagine a bunch of academics who are also enthusiastic and unashamed fans and you have a fair idea of the tone of most of the articles.

Jonathan Crane on Russ Meyer and Jonathan Raynor on car cult films are particularly good. There’s also an interesting article by Julian Petley on snuff movies, pointing out that in fact there’s never been any real evidence (outside the fevered imaginations of tabloid journalists and morals crusaders) that such movies actually exist.

I was also fascinated by Leon Hunt’s piece on kung fu movies, mainly because it’s a subject I knew nothing whatever about. Other movies discussed include The Exorcist, Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls, David Cronenberg’s Crash and From Dusk Till Dawn.

As with any such collection some essays are more interesting and more compelling than others, and it’s nothing less than a scandal that they’ve omitted Jess Franco and Jean Rollin, but overall it’s fascinating and stimulating and I recommend it highly.

No comments: