Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Re/Search #10: Incredibly Strange Films Paperback – October 5, 1986


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$67.95 $16.33

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "What If?" by Randall Munroe.

Product Details

  • Series: Re/Search (Book 10)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Re/Search Publications; 2nd edition (October 5, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1889307017
  • ISBN-13: 978-1889307015
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

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 personalities, articles, quotations, lists of recommended films, and sources.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

INCREDIBLY STRANGE FILMS #10

This is a functional guide to territory largely neglected by the film-criticism establishment-encompassing tens of thousands of films. Most of the films discussed test the limits of contemporary (middle class) cultural acceptability, mainly because in varying ways they don't meet certain "standards" utilized in evaluating direction, acting, dialogue, sets, continuity, technical cinematography, etc. Many of the films are overtly "lower class" or "low brow" in content and art direction. However, a high percentage of these works disdained by the would-be dictators of public opinion are sources of pure enjoyment and delight, despite improbable plots, "bad" acting, or ragged film technique. At issue is the notion of "good taste," which functions as a filter to block out entire areas of experience judged-and damned-as unworthy of investigation.

Our sophisticated, "democratic" Western civilization regulates the population's access to information, as well as its innermost attitudes, through media-particularly film and video. The power to literally create desire, fashion, consumer trends, opinions, aspirations and even one's very identity is expressed through film and video. This force-power through persuasion-reaches deep into the backbrain, rendering more brutal, physical control tactics obsolete.

Since the '60s, film has ceased being a popular creative medium. The whole '60s avant-garde filmmaking, from Brakhage to Connor, was based on the cheap availability of 16mm film, cameras, etc; many of the films in this book were originally shot in 16mm. After this became too expensive, Super-8 became the medium of choice. Several years ago, the major manufacturers began de-emphasizing professional-quality Super-8 cameras, film stocks, etc, saying, "People don't really want it. Editing is too hard for most people, and everyone's switching to video, anyway." The result: the number of low-budget films being produced has dropped drastically.

The value of low-budget films is: they can be transcendent of expressions of a single person's individual vision and quirky originality. When a corporation decides to invest $20 million in a film, a chain of command regulates each step, and no one person is allowed free rein. Meeting with lawyers, accountants, and corporate boards are what films in Hollywood are all about.

So what makes films like Herschell Gordon Lewis' The Wizard of Gore or Ray Dennis Steckler's The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies worthwhile? First of all: unfettered creativity. Often the films are eccentric-even extreme-presentations by individuals freely expressing their imaginations, who throughout the filmmaking process improvise creative solutions to problems posed either by circumstance or budget-mostly the latter. Secondly, they often present unpopular-even radical-views addressing social, political, racial or sexual inequities, hypocrisy in religion or government; or, in other ways they assault taboos related to the presentation of sexuality, violence, and other mores. (Cf. George Romero's Dead trilogy which features intelligent, problem-solving black heroes, or Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! which showcases tough girls outwitting-and even physically outdoing-sexist men.) Thirdly, occasionally films are made of such unique stature (Cf. Daughter of Horror) as to stand virtually outside any genre or classification, thus extending the boundaries of what has been done in the medium, as well as providing-at best-inexplicably marvelous experiences.

It is all too common-indeed, a cliche-for otherwise well-read, thoughtful people to deplore "violence" depicted in movies such as the ones discussed here. Yet there is not direct evidence that the mere viewing of a film causes crime; in fact, a film may well act as a "safety valve" preventing its occurrence. In any case, violence cannot be eliminated through repression of its representation; in fact, there is evidence we have a primal need to express ourselves violently, just as we do so-involuntarily-in our dreams. When there's an accident on the highway, our immediate, uncensored instinct is to stop and stare. But . . . there is a crucial difference between the artistic representation of violence and its willful commission against another person in actual life.

This volume focuses on unhailed filmmakers whose work dates primarily from the '60s and '70s. Most of the films mentioned are classifiable into two genres: gore (violence) and sexploitation, although the best transcend such facile labeling. Certain sexploitation or gore filmmakers (such as David Cronenberg, who already has had two books written about him) are absent because of previous publicity or inaccessibility. Many wonderful, more mainstream filmmakers, such as Bunuel, Polanski, Keaton, Fritz Lang and Val Lewton-and even entire genres such as Surrealist/Dada films and film noir-are not detailed for similar reasons. This is not a completist's volume-many other American movies, plus a whole other world of films from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Mexico, Spain, etc remain to be explored and experienced. Rather, it is a presentation of the continuing creative dilemma, with specific emphasis on the problems of artists counter to the status quo. Here the filmmakers themselves articulate their philosophies and histories while offering views and insights applicable to any creative medium. In the world of low-budget filmmaking, it is still possible for the imagination to reign supreme.


More About the Author

Jim Morton was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, but has lived in San Francisco since 1978. An avid film-buff, he has written extensively on the subject of forgotten or unusual films. His work in "Re/Search #10: Incredibly Strange Films" helped redefine film criticism and its concepts of good and bad cinema. He has contributed essays to several other film books, including "Lost Highways" (Jack Sargeant and Stephanie Watson), "Sex and Zen and a Bullet in the Head" (Stefan Hammond and Mike Wilkins), and "Land of a Thousand Balconies" (Jack Stevenson). He has also written many essays on popular culture, and was the editor-in-chief of "Pop Void"; a journal devoted to the things in our culture that are either overlooked or forgotten. With Warren Dotz, he co-wrote "What a Character!: 20th Century American Advertising Icons," which was assigned reading by at least one college professor in a class on advertising. Currently he is working on a book about East German Cinema, and is the author of a website devoted to the subject.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
11
4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
1
1 star
0
See all 12 customer reviews
Chock full of interviews with great, overlooked filmmakers with a unique vision and lack of pretention.
Jaime A. Reynoso
I recommend this book for anyone, whether a film enthusiast or not, as an excellent way to find good entertainment and great reading.
Toby Levin
This is one of the best books on the subject of forgotten and low budget films, primarily exploitation.
A. Pavlicek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book changed my approach to writing, filmmaking, and life itself. It's an extremely unaffected yet affecting tome, which allowed a half-intellectual such as myself the unashamed ability to love the dumb things I love. It's a striking example of how art and entertainment lie in the world of heart, commitment, and sincerity, as much as in the world of craft or ability. Without it I would not have been able to write the filmmaking book I wrote with Lloyd Kaufman, All I Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 1997
Format: Paperback
RESearch's Incredibly Strange Films is an exhaustive and intelligent look at a neglected subject: "weird," low-budget, and exploitation movies, and the folks who make them. This is basically the book that canonized cult directors like Frank Hennenlotter, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Russ Meyer, and Doris Wishman.

Celebrating--and analyzing--genres like Mondo, sexploitation, LSD films, and today's most recently fetishized genre of "educational films," the essays in this book are jubilant and informed. Also provided are a number of interviews with cheese film luminaries like Ted V. Mickels (The Corpse Grinders), Herschell Gordon Lewis (Wizard of Gore), and Larry Cohen (It's Alive!).

Essayists Joe Morton and now-infamous Boyd Rice provide terrific commentary. Haven't you always wanted to read Boyd Rice interviewing Herschell Gordon Lewis about gore and direct mail marketing?

Although the book is a bit out-of-date now (published in 1986), it is still a valuable source of information on these brilliantly bizarre, and often ignored, movies. Everyone from fans to film scholars should check this one out.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Pavlicek on August 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
It's been a year since I bought this book and read it; I still frequently go back to it. This is one of the best books on the subject of forgotten and low budget films, primarily exploitation. One of the key elements that makes this book stand out is that it does not view the films as a novelty or apply that so over used term "So bad their good." There's a real sincerity, respect, and intelligence regarding the subject, which is unfortunately rare. This book can see beyond the simple aesthetics, most of which are product of budget or lack there of, and get to the meat of what is significant and interesting about these films. The interviews and essays are interesting and intelligent, and the film list in back has yet to disappoint me. This book was able to articulate and intellectualize something I've felt ever since I saw Plan 9 from Outer Space when I was 11 and thought "I must get a copy of this." The Introduction alone is one of the best critiques of cinema I've come across, and I went to film school for two and a half years. A very valuable book in anyone's collection from a frequently fascinating source, Re/Search.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TJ Karstens on January 25, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As with all the Research Series books, Incredibly Strange Films lavishes the reader with little known information on a marginal subject with great detail. I originally received this book in 1986 and was immediately impressed with the exhaustive research of all our forgotten films as well as the profiles on directors such as H.G. Lewis. It also includes a helpful index (as far as I can remember) that will send you running for the video store. I haven't written a book on films but I know that you need not be a film buff or major to enjoy this book. The photos are reason enough to buy this book.If you don't believe me, just view the cover!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Toby Levin on January 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent guide to the odd side to film. It really made me enthusiastic about low-budget, high-creativity films. Besides excellent interviews with strange film-makers, it has a great guide to the many genres of strange films and an even more amazing guide to strange film personalities. I recommend this book for anyone, whether a film enthusiast or not, as an excellent way to find good entertainment and great reading.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By christopher curry on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with James Gunn in saying that the Incredibly Strange Film book changed my life forever. This book gives relevance to films that were, for the most part, regarded as B's, drekk, sleaze or just plain trash.
And again, like James Gunn, with out it I wouldn't have been able to write my own book about H.G. Lewis entitled, A Taste of Blood: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images