Silver Screen Streak List #23: The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film
Written by dorrk
Several years ago, I published a guide to my favorite books about movies, many of which have been on my shelf for decades. One of the first such books in my collection was Michael Weldon's THE PSYCHOTRONIC ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FILM (1983). I combed through it obsessively as a teenager, looking for the most outlandish VHS rentals. Years later, when I errantly decided to strip down my cumbersome physical possessions, I sold a lot of my movie books — I have since re-bought most of them — I held onto my original PSYCHOTRONIC guide for the simple reason that I had marked it up so excessively I assumed no one would take it (see some excerpts below). Weldon isn't much of a reviewer; his blurbs mostly consist of dry plot synopses, seldom with a rare bit of trivia, praise or condemnation. But just to have this collection of notable genre titles all in one place was a treasure in the mid-1980s.
Despite Weldon's book holding such a significant role in my early movie-watching career, I've barely made a dent in its catalog. According to this list on Letterboxd, I've only seen 16% of the book's 2500+ featured titles. Thanks to this project, Flickcharter Jandy Hardesty is giving me a nudge to knock down a few more by assigning this list as my next Silver Screen Streak subject. I'll be ordering the list by highest average rating and, naturally, skipping those I've already seen (and, skipping a couple of concert movies, because I don't care about concert movies).
Below is the first 10 movies from this list, including excerpts of Weldon's blurbs.
This Watchlist: The First Two Movies
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962)
Dir.: Karel Zeman
"Live action is blended with backdrop scenery and props based on the engravings of Gustav Dore."
Dir.: H. C. Potter
"Olsen and Johnson's anarchic stage play turned into an almost equally unstructured movie. It opens in Hell. Occasionally, the stars leave the film, argue with its projectionist (Shemp Howard), and have him replay scenes. Sometimes the film jumps out of frame. With Mad magazine-type gags about potted plants and a character yelling 'Mr. Jones!' for no apparent reason."
The Next Eight
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
Dir.: John M. Stahl
"Technicolor film noir told in flashback."
Invention for Destruction (1958)
Dir.: Karel Zeman
A.K.A. The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.
"The best-known of Zeman's poetic mixtures of live action and 19th century engravings was released here with anglicized credits and promoted as being in 'Mystimation.'"
Seven Days in May (1964)
Dir.: John Frankenheimer
"A modern political horror story."
The Atomic Cafe (1982)
Dir.: Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty & Pierce Rafferty
"A devastating documentary edited from 1950s U.S. Government films.... Not recommended for viewers with weak hearts."
Dir.: John Cromwell
"Eleanor Parker didn't know her husband was robbing the gas station while she waited in the car. She lands in prison, where she is corrupted by Jan Sterling, Gertrude Michael, Jane Darwell, Ellen Corby, and the other tramps."
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Dir.: William Dieterle
"Classic version of the Victor Hugo novel, starring the wonderful Charles Laughton as the lovesick, deformed bellringer."
Dir.: John Waters
"The first feature in 'Odorama!'.... This hilarious comedy is filled with references to exploitation, porno and art films. It should have been Waters' biggest hit, but the humor in this bid for mass (pre-midnight) acceptance is a little too close to home."
The Intruder (1962)
Dir.: Roger Corman
"A well-made, serious look at integration in the South, starring William Shatner as a visiting racist troublemaker.... Critically acclaimed, it was too controversial at the time to receive much distribution."