PopGap #19: Movie Books Special Report
Written by dorrk
Reading is fun.
This month I read former-Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman's terrific new book, Movie Freak. Like a damn fool, I thought I'd casually write up some short blurbs on a few of the movie books that have been important to me over the years, but — as I should have expected, given my obsessive nature with regard to these kinds of projects — it became far more involved than that, encompassing 15 books that have mostly been important to me and my movie watching over the span of 40 years.
MEDIA LIFE CRISIS MOVIE BOOK READING LIST
MOVIE FREAK (2016)
SILVER SCREEN FIEND (2015)
EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS (1999)
Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is, in my opinion, the most important book of movie history about the most important era of movie-making. Spanning the late 1960s to the early 1980s, it vividly covers Hollywood's cultural revolution following the collapse of the confining studio system. The subsequent explosion of vital, boundary-pushing talent changed the industry, briefly, into a prolific factory for gritty dramas and edgy comedies, until Star Wars changed everything. Biskind knows this subject as well as anybody, digs into its seamiest corners, and writes about the debauched era with due excitement. The problem this book presents for me, however, is the urge it provokes on every page to stop reading and watch the movies discussed therein before continuing on to the next.
Biskind followed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls with a similar look at the indie film boom of the 1990s, Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. That one's on my shelf for future reading, but I imagine that both of his books, with producer Julia Phillips' scathing memoir You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again sandwiched in the middle, will teach you anything you ever wanted to know about the movie industry from 1967-2000.
MONSTERS IN THE MOVIES (2011)
John Landis' gorgeous coffee-table book is the new, glossy and R-rated version of my childhood favorite, Dennis Gifford's A Pictorial History of Horror Movies. Monsters in the Movies covers the entire history of horror by creature: vampires, werewolves, mad scientists, zombies, ghosts, etc. The book also includes interviews with Guillermo Del Toro, Ray Harryhausen, Rick Baker, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, and more, but it's the thousands of huge, often full-color horror movie stills that make this book a must for any horror fan.
Monsters in the Movies comes out in paperback later this year.