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Book Reviews
TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films
By: Millie De Chirico, Quatoyiah Murry - Running Press Adult, $22.49

Description: Based on the Turner Classic Movies series, TCM Underground is the movie-lover’s guide to 50 of the most campy, kitschy, shocking, and weirdly wonderful cult films you need to see!

Verdict: On the pages of this book, you’ll explore this unique order of films—primarily from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s — with insightful reviews, behind-the-scenes stories, subgenre sidebars, and full-color and black-and-white photography throughout.

You’ll go along for the ride with new takes on crime films, including The Honeymoon Killers and The Harder They Come, witness one-of-a-kind horror in Bill Gunn’s landmark vampire film Ganja and Hess and Nobuhiko Obayashi’s infamous and indescribable Hausu.

You will absorb the boundary-pushing documentary-style trilogy The Decline of Western Civilization, which throws you into indelible moments in the punk and metal music scenes and you will marvel at pure ’80s oddities like Mac and Me and The Garbage Pail Kids.

In what is a most incredible, lushly created, magnificently cultivated, and brilliantly engrossing new book, TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema is a must-have for all those out there who think they know what’s TCM cool, and for those that have no idea what TCM cool even means!

Just pulling a few of my own favorites out of the mix here, I’ll open with Across 110th Street (1972) starring powerhaus’ Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto. Although known primarily as a blaxploitation film, it holds many Neo Noir elements, most noticeably being a police procedural.

Plus with Quinn as a slightly crooked cop with a good heart and poor sympathetic criminals stealing from unsympathetic rich criminals and different factions of the mob and/or gangs, this was a rich Noir-laden, under-watched gem through and through.

Another one would be the wildly wacky Eating Raoul (1982) starring Mary Woronov and and Paul Bartel (who also directed and wrote the screenplay). I love that the film was shot on multiple stocks, cadged from a variety of sources. Indeed, much of it was shot on donated short ends, short unused portions of unexposed film.

Some of the longer runs of stock given to the production had been rejected by the donors because of noticeable mold growth on the cans that held it. The team shot the film and then crossed their fingers and delivered it to the developing lab!

Another is Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) starring James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. Just some of the reasons to love this movie include the fact that it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the purest American road movie ever!

Add to that it’s like a drive-in movie directed by a French new wave director and because the only thing that can get between a boy and his car obsession is a girl, and Laurie Bird perfectly messes up the oneness between the Driver, the Mechanic, and their car!

Oh, and add to those it’s because Dennis Wilson gives the greatest performance ever . . . by a drummer and also because James Taylor seems like a refugee from a Robert Bresson movie, and has the chiseled looks of Artaud from Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, and you start to get my drift!

My last choice will be the brilliantly colorful Thank God It’s Friday (1972) starring, amongst others, Valeri Landsburg, Terri Nunn, Donna Summer and a whole host of other crazy-beautiful musicians! Aside from the movie having been made for about $2 million, and reportedly tripling its production investment, the now-infamous ice cavern-themed room The Cave seen at the Zoo disco in the movie was an actual room that existed at Osko’s Los Angeles nightclub!

Oh, and the movie was released about six months after Saturday Night Fever (1977) and thus has been considered as being a studio programmer cashing in on the success of that movie as the film’s title featured the other big day of the weekend (Friday rather than Saturday) in which people go out at night.

But heck, the landmark song Last Dance from Donna Summer went on to win the Golden Globe Award in 1979 for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture, so who’s laughing now!

In conclusion, from Possession to Polyester and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls to Xanadu, no two films are alike in this compendium. Just sit back and prepare to be surprised, amused, and entertained by this celebration of the stars, filmmakers, and stories behind fifty of the most beguiling and unforgettable movies ever to hit the screen.

Inclusive of a most wonderful foreword by comedian Patton Oswalt, who instructs the reader not to read the book from the beginning, but moreover flip it around, stop where it grabs you, and let it lead you backward and forward and sideways, TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema is a most wonderful gift for the person in your life that has all these movies, talks about all these movies, and yet you still think they should hunker down with this book to garner more knowledge for their insufferable/adorable verbal recollections!

About the Authors - Millie De Chirico is the chief programmer for TCM Underground, and hosts its companion YouTube series, TCM Slumberground. She is also one-half of the film podcast I Saw What You Did which spotlights unexpected, thematic double features. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Quatoyiah Murry is a film critic and writer who has worked with TCM and FilmStruck, as well as written under the moniker The Cinephiliac, with contributions to Time, Pretty Clever Films, and Movie Boozer. Her work often focuses on diversity, representation, and historical context in film. Born and raised in Georgia, she now resides in Paris, France.

Official Book Purchase Link

www.runningpress.com





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