It's safe to say that books about cult cinema are a dime a dozen – but fans of the genre are either treated to short blurbs about their favorite films in an all-to expensive compendium or cheap and chintzy titles that seem hastily put together. Small press publishers like Creation Books have been tapping into this niche market for years – printing specialized books that mass market publishers won't touch because of their transgressive subject matter and because they don't feel they have a huge audience.
Fans of mondo/death flicks like 'Mondo Cane' and 'Faces of Death' may be familiar with Creation's 'Killing for Culture' – published in 1996, this remains the definitive title for fans of the subgenre. Their film studies line of books has covered an array of topics on experimental, underground, and erotic cinema. Now comes Creation's 'Persistence of Vision' series – a limited edition (100 copies, hand-numbered, and sure to be highly collectable) of illustrated monographs on the classics of cult cinema. The large format chapbooks are not only visually pleasing, but kept concise and affordable – and include over fifty photographic illustrations, with at least thirty rarely-seen publicity photos, production details, bonus material, and color images where applicable. Two titles, 'Killing Machines: Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!' and 'Inferno De Sade: Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò' have kicked off the series and provide an in-depth analysis and history on the classic and controversial films.
Hit the jump to find out more about these new cult film titles.
Doyle Greene digs into the quintessential Russ Meyer film with an insightful scene-by-scene breakdown that pays homage to Meyer's abilities as not only an exploitation filmmaker, but an artistic purveyor of dark satire, gender/sexual politics, and high/low culture. As Greene explains, Meyer's bodacious bosoms, cinematic editing style (or as many would say, lack thereof), and kitsch vulgarity have been a force to reckon with for some audiences – but behind Meyer's exaggerated theatrics are a world of powerful political and psychological thematics worthy of philosophical treatise. Greene explores these observations thoughtfully – providing a detailed character analysis on 'Pussycat's ' infamous leading ladies, particularly the go-go gang leader Varla (Tura Satana) who remains the most iconic Meyer's character in his entire filmography.
Every facet of 'Pussycat's ' allure is expounded upon, right down to the film's memorable narration and dialogue – both "poetic" and "trash-talking", and akin to 1950's sci-fi and Cold War allegories. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of 'Killing Machines' is the gender/sexual stereotypes, politics, and anxieties that Greene investigates. It's certainly not information that anyone familiar with these subjects is green to, but the author draws some interesting and thought-provoking connections that may be new discoveries regardless. The illustrated filmography and sharp black and white full-page images cap things off nicely. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. If you require a little 'Pussycat' prologue to prepare yourself for violence: the word and the act, I highly recommend picking up a copy of 'Killing Machines'. Long-time fans of Meyer's masterpiece will also find a lot to appreciate here.
It would be impossible to talk about the depraved 'Salò' without delving into the controversial life of its director, Pier Paulo Pasolini, which Stephen Barber does in 'Inferno De Sade'. The author introduces the film -- the last Pasolini made before he was brutally murdered -- by way of its originator, the Marquis de Sade. The film is based on De Sade's '120 Days of Sodom' – the story of four wealthy male libertines who indulge in a months long orgy of debauchery and death. Pasolini sets the scene in the last days of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime in the Republic of Salò (the history of which the author provides succinctly) – exploring the corruption of politics and power alongside perverse sexuality.
As Barber explains, this region had personal ties to Pasolini who grew up in the area during his youth, and whose brother was executed as the result of a "chaotic squabble between two rival anti-fascist partisan groups." This morbid irony would follow the director to his very death – a violent mystery that remains unsolved, though was once pinned on a teenage hustler Pasolini had been in flagrante delicto with moments before he died. Obscenity plagued the film long after Pasolini's death. It was only shown in theaters for three weeks and was censored "without the presence of Pasolini to defend its driving obsessions." Barber's analysis explores 'Salo's ' mystique through its historical timeline, and includes Pasolini's own writings on the film – including a passage about the synthesis of Dante's 'Inferno' in the film – the structure of which Creation's book borrows part of its title from and alludes to in chapters like 'Circle of Obsessions' and 'Circle of Blood'. The book closes with six small, but clear full-color images which capture the artistic depravity of the film. With 'Inferno de Sade', Creation and Barber have crafted a fantastic examination of one of history's most infamous films.