Friday, August 18, 2006

Movie Fantastic


From the cover of MOVIE FANTASTIC-BEYOND THE DREAM MACHINE, you’d never know that it was a serious work of cinema history. Not only do we have a rather simplistic bit of Godzilla poster art but also a totally incongruous TV Batman lunchbox, giving the distinct impression that the book is going to be a kids’ pop culture puff piece!
Inside, however, this 1974 release is divided into four sections-Myths, Machines, Visions and Nightmares. With a wealth of uncensored rare drawings and photographs, author David Annan covers international cinema’s obsession with fantasy from the silent days of George Melies through KING KONG and DRACULA and on into Jean Rollin’s then contemporary lesbian vampire films. He attempts and often succeeds to put them into a real world context, touching on everything from cave drawings and Native American legends to specific movements in traditional cinema.
A bit pretentious, the text is really little more than a long essay on fantasy in film history, livened up by an eclectic mix of rare and iconic film stills you aren’t likely to find anywhere else.
MOVIE FANTASTIC-BEYOND THE DREAM MACHINE was part of a film book series originally published, I believe, in the UK but distributed in part in the US through the late seventies. Other titles included KUNG FU, CINEMA OF VENGEANCE, SAVAGE CINEMA, ITALIAN WESTERNS-THE OPERA OF VIOLENCE and CATASTROPHE-THE END IN THE CINEMA. Annan's book has been reissued several times since under different titles, also.

1 comment:

JimTex said...

Saw this in either a Pickwick Books (pre B. Dalton) or a Waldenbooks in '74, under the title Cinefantastic as it was in the ads in Famous Monsters of Filmland. Thumbed through it, saw a pic from Fellini's Roma of a nude woman with 6 breasts on all fours, and KNEW right there that my purchase of this book would be doomed, ex post facto, in spite of the friendly Godzilla on the cover. I would be found out and the book would get stashed. I was 11, what could I do? So I didn't even ask... Sigh.

In '87 or '88 I saw the Movie Fantastic title at a Half-Price Books and instantly recognized the cover and bought it on the spot. Strangely no Roma pic but lots of those expilcit Jean Rollin vampire shots that would've really got me in trouble back in the day. Sigh.