Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Film: Shock Masters of the Cinema

Shock Masters of the Cinema (Loris Curci, Fantasma Book, 1996)
An out-of-date & out-of-print book once meant for die-hard fans of horror film who find happiness in knowing everything about everyone in the modern horror film scene. About the only question not asked is whether the given director wears it left or right. Due to the numerous typos in the text, some of which result in the reader having to decipher what is said as if it were some secret code, could make one think that this publication is foreign. But no, it comes from Florida (USA, not Uruguay), even if the writer/interviewer is indeed from Italy.... thus, the possible excuses that exist are: bad English as a second language or crappy translators.
Shock Masters is a collection of interviews made by Curci (and a variety of his friends) of 26 names, cult names, not generally known names and downright unknown names. Those featured range from the overly interviewed Dario Argento & John Carpenter (yawn) to the cult director Antonio Margheriti and some dude named Steve Johnson (who?), onwards to the fondly remembered like Freddie Francis & Jean Rollins to mainstream "names" like Kenneth Branagh. Fun reading for the indiscriminate or the fanatics, but others will find many an interview uninteresting, if not pointless, due both to the unimportance of the interviewed and the superficial, meandering questions of the interviewee.
Does one really need another interview of Carpenter, Wes Craven, Robert England or George Romero? If so, then must the questions always be so innocuous, uninspired and fawning? Not to say that numerous of those features don’t warrant attention, but the few pages given to the possibly stimulating Jorg Buttgereit, Jeffrey Combs, Frank Henenlotter, Angus Scrimm and Don Coscarelli convey little of interest, nor are they very informative, contemplative or piquant. Why interview people if you don’t give them the space to speak? Or, for that matter, ask good questions?
In the end, regardless who the feature subject is, the core flaw of this book is succinctly said in the maxim "a good interview depends not on who is being interviewed but on who is interviewing." Considering Curci’s journalistic resume, however, his lack of ability in posing questions is highly surprising. Perhaps one should blame the editor? In any event, the price of the book is better spent on the DVD of any of the given directors, and not on this poor excuse for cutting down trees.

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