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Cult Movies: The Classics, the Sleepers, the Weird, and the Wonderful Hardcover – October 6, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Gramercy (October 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517201852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517201855
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #939,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Remington on May 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Danny Peary, a film fanatic himself, in these series of three books (I'm only dealing with the first in this review) gleefully, critically and passionately celebrates what makes film going the sheer pleasure that it is. In a series of well written, insightful, often humourous and always celebratory essays, Peary explores many classic, weird and wonderful films that raise the pulses of fans.
Many film texts are dry treatises that absolutely drain the rollercoaster vicseral joy that a film can bring. Not so with Peary's excellent series. Peary manages to legitimately relate the true art that is cinema while at the same time exploring what makes so many great films live as a part of our very extistances.
I have read and re-read this book several times and each time, I have discovered a new insight into a favorite film or been directed to a new reference point. Peary is very careful to point to other film scholars and film titles that can enhance a film cutlists experience. In deconstructing each film, he also includes fascinating tidbits of information such as interviews with the film makers, insights into the creative process and backstory history.
Especially fine are his explorations on "It's a Wonderful Life", "King Kong", "Singin' in the Rain", "Rio Bravo" and "A Hard Day's Night". He successfully argues in all those cases that superb entertainment does make great art.
Do I agree with every one of Peary's opinions? Do I enjoy every single film included in these three books? Of course not! But Peary does give vallidation to all of us who could be classified as true film geeks. Since these books are as of this writing all out of print, I with the strongest terms possible urge you all to seek them out. You will not be dissapointed!
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Format: Hardcover
Let me state at the outset that I just love this book! I bought it when it first came out in the early '80s, and it kind of changed my movie-going habits. I'd long been a fan of the old movies, but this book, along with its two sequels, "Cult Movies 2" and "Cult Movies 3," provided me with 200 films that--largely due to Mr. Peary's enthusiastic and keen-minded style--I just had to go and see. As of today, I've seen all but a handful of these wonderful films. It's always fun to see a movie and then read a dead-on analysis of that film. Many times I will disagree with Danny Peary (for example, I think he downgrades "Forbidden Planet" unfairly), but in the vast majority of cases I will be amazed at how much Mr. Peary has picked up that I hadn't noticed. (For example, for some reason, it never sunk in with me that Janet Leigh's character in "Psycho" has the name of Marion CRANE, while Norman Bates is a taxidermist of birds!) He is an extremely observant and thoughtful reviewer, with an obvious love of his subject. The range of films reviewed in these three books is quite large, from the 1927 silent movie "Napoleon" to "Plan 9 From Outer Space"; from "Children of Paradise" to "Phantom of the Paradise." This is the type of book that forces you to respect the author's opinions, even if you wildly disagree with them. Finally, I would like to recommend the book "Alternate Oscars" by the same author...a true treat for film buffs!
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Format: Hardcover
When I first found this treasure in 1982, my first thought was "I'm not alone!" Of the 100 movies Danny Peary chose for his work, many were my own personal favorites. Mr. Peary clearly loves film, but he loves movies even more. By that I mean his reviews reflect someone who sits in a dark theater or a comfortable chair and just enjoys what he is watching, without overanalyzing them. That is why this book is so enjoyable.
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Format: Paperback
How much do I love CULT MOVIES by Danny Peary? As I write this, my copy of the book (purchased in 1981) has split in two. It's spine severed from years of flipping its pages from front to back. I consider it a trusted friend and if you are a fellow "film fanatic," you will, too.

This review of 100 films was one of the firsts along with Jonathan Rosenbaum and J. Hoberman's "Midnight Madness" to delve into what makes a movie a "cult movie," and Peary does a spectacular job. Unlike some surveys which focus more on indescribable oddities such as David Lynch's "Eraserhead", Peary wonderfully widens the cult criteria to include a whole array of the film-watching experiences. From schlock like "Plan 9 From Outer Space" to high art like "The Red Shoes", Peary's understanding of popular culture is often brilliant and on the money. Every conceivable genre gets their due -comedies, westerns, horror, musicals, film noir thrillers, kung fu epics, and even 70's porn! Like them or not, all are made to seem wonderfully relevant and alive.

My copies of Peary's "Cult Movies 2" and "Cult Movies 3" are equally dog-eared. Get them all because this is film criticism as its best!
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book when it first came out in the early 80s. I've referred to it so often that it now rests peacefully open on my desk at any given page. It provided me with a "birdwatcher's list" of unique films to seek out and enjoy.
Mr. Peary's approach to cult movies is respectful- this in contrast to other books of the "Bad Movie catalog" bent. At the end of his comments about "Plan 9 From Outer Space", for example, he came to the defense of Ed Wood. He pointed out that Mr. Wood managed to get his message, critical of American nuclear build-up, past the censors and into the theaters. Most other filmmakers at that time just went with the political flow.
Thanks to Mr. Peary's tutelage, I sought out such diverse films as "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (artsy, passionate), "El Topo" (bizarre, egotistical), "42nd Street" (musical... not my style, but I enjoyed it), "Kiss Me, Deadly" (pure noir), and "Behind the Green Door (`nuff said). If you want to put some excitement in your experience of cinema, this book is a great way to begin.
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