Cult Cinema: An Ar­row Video Com­pan­ion

ROUGH DI­A­MONDS

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UR­ING HIS in­tro­duc­tion to this com­pen­dium of es­says, Ben Wheat­ley rem­i­nisces about rent­ing Taxi Driver on VHS at the age of 15. “By the end of the film,” he says, “I felt like I’d had my head scraped out and re­set.” That is a solid de­scrip­tion of the ef­fect any of the movies men­tioned in this book will have on the av­er­age viewer. A cel­e­bra­tion of “cin­e­matic sleaze droplets” (to bor­row a phrase from Robin Bougie’s con­tri­bu­tion), the en­tries col­lected here revel in cel­lu­loid’s seamier side. If it’s got mis­shapen stars, poo-eat­ing hook­ers or a scene in which a man eats a cat’s eye­ball — an ac­tual thing that hap­pens in 1934’s Ma­niac — chances are it’ll get a men­tion.

Uk-based dis­trib­u­tor Ar­row has be­come known for its high-gloss re-re­leases of ne­glected movies, from Joe Dante’s The ’Burbs to Richard Elf­man’s For­bid­den Zone. This means they’re uniquely well-placed to pro­vide an education in cult cinema. Avid col­lec­tors, beware: 20 of the 30 chap­ters in this book are re-prints of book­lets pack­aged with in­di­vid­ual Dvd/blu-ray re­leases. But for the layper­son (i. e. any­one un­able to iden­tify which Tinto Brass movie fea­tures a priest sniff­ing a lady’s bi­cy­cle seat), this is a ter­rific

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