MIDNIGHT MOVIES by J. & Jonathan Rosenbaum Hoberman

MIDNIGHT MOVIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rosenbaum offered a gushy salute to the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon in Moving Places (1980); and here he joins Hoberman in recounting, in fulsome (if sometimes blessedly ironic) detail, the history of underground movie-making--with its cult-audience following--since about 1960. After a chaotic introduction, which leaps around from Hollywood history to the auteur theory to the ""erotic"" motivation of film-critics Kael and Sarris, the authors turn to the early-'60s repertoire at N.Y.'s Charles cinema, to the work of Kenneth Anger (Scorpio Rising) and Jack Smith--whose blaming Creatures ""was a cross between Josef von Sternberg at his most studiedly artistic and a delirious home movie of a transvestite masquerade."" Then it's on to Andy Warhol (familiar Edie/Factory material), the popularization of the underground, the coopting of avant-garde material by commercialism and porn. So, by 1970, new sources of shock had to emerge: the ""gaudy carnage and display of physical deformity"" in Alexandro Jodorowsky's El Tope, which spoke to the counterculture's ""love of the arcane and its collective paranoia""; George Romero's ghoul-work, soon eclipsed by John Waters (Monde Trasho, Pink Flamingos--with its famous ""dog-shit scene""). And the final chapters are devoted to the Rocky Horror cult history (in numbing detail), the fate of various Rocky Horror participants, a paean to Eraserhead (""the most beautiful and brilliant film ever to become a midnight blockbuster""), a quick survey of cult-film themes (rock, drugs, drag, camp, gore, agitprop). . . and an attempt at analysis in a ""dialogue"" between the authors. Ultimately, however, there's little insight into the precise nature or extent of cult-film popularity. And, with lapses into juvenile prose (""Lynch had a thing about textures that was an essential part of his weirdness""), this is an informative but overblown survey--primarily for those already hooked on the scene.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1983
ISBN: 0306804336
Publisher: Harper & Row