Before the days of the internet, there was the library. For a young film enthusiast like me, my library card was filled with pretty much nothing but books on film and Stephen King novels. Books on special effects, monster movies, film director biographies (Scorsese and Scorsese was personal favorite), and this book. CULT MOVIES by Danny Peary was a staple for me. I honestly think that the copy at my local library was checked out for most of the mid 90’s…by me. If “Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide” was my bible, this book was my Dead Sea Scroll. An addendum to everything I found sacred in the holy texts so to speak. Where my precious movie guide was a never ending stream of descriptive paragraphs, this book brought life, critique, and most importantly…PICTURES!
It was one of my early missions in life to see all the movies in the Movie & Video Guide. However I knew that would be close to impossible do, being that we only had a couple of small video stores in my suburban town and cable then was not what it is now. I would have to downsize my goal, I would have to have someone guide me through the never ending, and ever growing list of films worth my time and effort. This was one of the books to help me do that.
Before opening up this book (and it’s follow up volumes), titles such as THE BROOD, CAGED HEAT, ERASERHEAD, FREAKS, PEEPING TOM… meant nothing to me. After seeing pictures of the films, reading their plots and the mostly spoiler free critiques, it made me prioritize my list and seek out the treasures that lay within.
Finding the films would prove to be a challenge. They really don’t stock films like BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR and TWO LANE BLACKTOP at the local Blockbuster in Provo, Utah. You do your best. You buy bootleg vhs tapes from video catalogues, tapes that have been dubbed over and over so you can barely make out what you’re seeing, but hey, at least you can say you’ve seen the movie.
Once the internet came to be a household item, access to websites like EBAY, AMAZON, and ALIBRIS finally gave people from small towns the opportunity to purchase (expensively) the rare films we had been looking for for years. Then came NETFLIX, the DVD by mail service that took the world by storm. Finally, you could “rent” films like THRILLER-A CRUEL PICTURE, PERFORMANCE and SHOCK CORRIDOR.
It seems that these days people scoff at the idea of “physical media”, trading in their tapes and discs for streaming services and VOD (which I confess, is pretty cool), but there are still films out there that are only available in either the original form they were released or on a new disc or blu-ray (painstakingly restored by fans who created their own publishing labels).
I’m looking forward to re-reading the guide. Now that I’ve seen most of the films in it, it should be fun to see how the years have changed my opinions on things. To see whether or not they lived up to the hype that I created in my mind from the words and pictures in the books.
I’ll keep you posted!