He Read It Sober.

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Volume I 






Read it!



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"Cult Movies are special films which for one reason or another have been taken to heart by segments of the movie going audience, cherished, protected, and, most of all, enthusiastically championed ... They see them repeatedly and are intent on persuading anyone who will listen that they should be appreciated regardless of what the [critics] think."

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I remember as if it were yesterday...

Back in high school (-- circa 1985), during a study hall, I was diligently finishing up my Algebra assignment so I could turn my attention to this wonderful new book that I had just purchased. Alas, I didn't notice, but Mrs. Barger -- the Nurse Ratchet of study hall monitors, was making her rounds, and when she saw the book -- and it's lurid title, quickly snatched it up, thinking it was evil (-- as the word "cult" often implies), or some kind of porno-film guide. 

The old battle-axe thought she had me dead to rights, but luck was with me that day as she sneered and flipped through the pages. I say lucky because she didn't see the entry for Behind the Green Door, and the huge picture of a naked Marilyn Chambers. Instead, her facial expression quickly changed as the first page she stopped on was the entry for the Christmas classic, It's A Wonderful Life, and then the John Ford masterpiece, The Searchers. Asking me what it was, I explained that it was a serious book on film and filmmaking, and after mumbling something about James Dean, and pointing out some pictures from Rebel Without a Cause, she snorted, gave the book back, and then moved on to torment someone else. Quickly burying it under another text book, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and went back to work; the book would have to wait until I got home.

Author and film critic Danny Peary presents an eclectic bunch of films for this book, covering everything from the obscure to the well known. From Citizen Kane to El Topo, Eraserhead to The Maltese Falcon, Caged Heat to The Wizard of Oz and beyond. In all, one hundred films are broken down with a credit list, a detailed plot synopsis, and are beautifully illustrated with photos, posters and publicity stills. And then it gets really  interesting with lengthy and thoughtful dissertations on the film's particulars, and why each particular film enjoys it's cult status.

With all due respect to the other B-Movie websites that helped inspire 3B Theater, it was Peary's style and presentation in this book that has been the most influential in the shaping and molding of what this website is today. I've always loved weird movies and read a lot of books and magazines on monster movies and other strange films. But it wasn't until after I bought this book that I became truly fascinated by the carnal knowledge of movies: behind the scenes scuttlebutt, gonzo directors, idiosyncratic stars with hidden agendas, or messages in films that make the production almost as interesting as the film itself.

Peary has three volumes of books dedicated to these weird, wonderful and sometimes gonzoidal pieces of cinema. He also has a great book on alternate Oscars, dedicated to films that probably should have won the Academy Award for best picture since it's inception. And any serious film scholar who would nominate The Thing from Another World for Best Picture in 1951 is a freakin' genius in my book.

Coming out fifteen years before the internet made anything and everything about a film available -- BEFORE IT'S EVEN RELEASED, Peary's books were (and still are) a gold mine.

Originally Posted: 06/13/02 :: Rehashed: 05/20/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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