On Christmas morning 2002, I had an epiphany, if you will. My 15-year old self had a spiritual awakening. Not the New Testament did I seek refuge in, on BabyJesus’s birthday, it was a different sort of book. A much weirder one. Well, slightly weirder one, I guess.
My parents bought me Videohound’s Cult Flicks and Trash Pics, edited by Carol Schwartz. To me, Carol Schwartz was certainly some sort of Modern-Day King James. And this book, the distillation of her collective wisdom. The cover holds not crucifixes but flying saucers and Godzilla. There is no Norman Rockwell-esque wide-eyed Jesus peering back at me, just Jack Nance from Eraserhead. The only divinity that of Divine, pointing a pistol our way. There are no monk-drawn intricacies, tapestries, elegant calligraphy—instead a leopard print pattern, a mustard-colored bubble surrounding text the same flamingo-red of Divine’s frilly dress. And at the bottom: “Foreward by Bruce Campbell” one of the key players! It was as if Noah had left an introduction to be placed before the Old Testament.
A reference work, which in those early days of the Internet were still cherished tomes— facts unattainable else-where. The book details a number of ‘cult’ and ‘cult-like’ films, with descriptions, ratings, and occasional small feature pieces about the films, filmmakers, and actors. For a budding film-weirdo like myself, the work’s 850-odd pages were solid gold.
And I still run to the book’s battered pages after checking Wiki or IMDB, just to see what other juicy tidbits I can glean from inside, as it is a thorough text I can trust. I’m not sure if it’s a regional mind-set type thing (the work was published just across the state from me in the small town of Detroit), or if it just happens to be a collection of voices with which I have much common, but either way this is my cult film foundation. This is where it all started for me.