Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema

Ultimate Guide to Strange CinemaThe Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema
Published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2017. 352 pages.
By Michael Vaughn

In his introduction, author Vaughn writes, “…it’s hard to reproduce the feel of a real book in your hands, and I refuse to believe printed material is dead.” Okay…so it’s kind of hard to criticize an author when he has the same feelings on books as I do. But none the less, I started to dig into this volume with the same quizzical interest that I do every I review. Will he mention the right kind of titles here, or just rehash the same old “cult” films that are so common you’ll find t-shirts of them at your local Hot Topic. It didn’t take me long to realize that Vaughn has done something special here.

Just quickly paging through this, I was enthusiastic to see so many great little titles being covered, from some more common titles to some that I haven’t thought of in decades, as well as mentioning plenty of titles that are now written down in my Need-To-See list! That is the real beauty of this volume is that it is going to bring some that are in that deserve some much needed attention, hoping to breath  a little life again to these new fans reading this book. Vaughn covers titles from around the world and in a variety of different genres. Not just the usual horror & sci-fi entries, but also dramas, comedies, crime/thrillers, and even one chapter entitled Cars, Trucks, and Choppers, but that all still fit inside the strange world of cult cineam. How cool is that?

When covering The Killing of Satan (1983), Vaughn writes, “any ultra-low-budget Pilipino movie is at least worth a look, because chances are it’s going to be weird and sleazy with some blood thrown in for good measure.” Come on, people….how could you argue with that logic? And even better because he’s right! You will find so many great films listed in these pages, that even if they are not the easiest to find, you should still make a quest for them, because I think you’ll be happy you did.

But this isn’t just a journalistic puff-piece about these films, where the reviewer just rants and raves on how great they are. Vaughn is very upfront and critical of the films that he has issues with, and letting us know why. Sure, they still might be worth seeing, but I like the fact that he is honest with his opinions.

Even for fans of cult cinema, you are going to find titles in there you’re going to want to check out, some that you probably haven’t even heard of. It makes a great check list for purveyors of strange cinema and will definitely put plenty of titles in your head for you to seek out. After all, isn’t that the main goal for any movie guide?

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