(Reviewed by JD Jung)
“Welcome seeks of the odd and the strange! What you hold in your hands is not merely a book but a map to the sublimely weird, the wonderful, and the grimy side of cinema from all over the globe. It’s a labor of love and the result of a lifelong love affair and obsession.”
This is what Michael Vaughn claims in his book The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema and he sure delivers! This is the ultimate guide to cult cinema from around the world.
Each chapter deals with a genre: Action/Adventure (with a sub-category on cannibalism), Cars/ Trucks / Chopper, Comedy, Crime/Thrillers, Drama, Fantasy and Horror. He gives a synopsis, photo, relevant history and review of each film. Each entry isn’t just a few lines, but multiple paragraphs. If you can’t get enough of a specific film, he suggests another movie that it will go with.
Not all these are great movies, but they represent a specific niche in the genre. In fact, some are way over the top.
There are many movies that I remember, such as Russ Meyer’s 1965 sexploitation movie “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”, David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”, “The Skin I Live In” by Pedro Almovador , “Glen or Glenda” starring Bela Lugosi, and the weird comedy, “Eating Raoul” from 1982.
Most I haven’t heard of though, such as Werner Herzog’s 1970 “Even Dwarfs Started Small”, Fassbinder’s “Satan’s Brew” (1976), “I’m a Cyborg But That’s Ok” from South Korea, the wild action/ horror-comedy “Dead Sushi “-2012 from Japan and, well, there are hundreds.
Unfortunately, most of these films cannot be streamed. However most of the ones that I looked up are available in physical DVD rental.
As a big fan of Grindhouse cinema, I can say that The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema will make the perfect gift for fans of cult films. In fact, I will be referring to this often and may just go “old-school” and rent actual DVDs again.