Tag Archives: Performing Arts

Sixties Shockers

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Sixties Shockers: A Critical Filmography of Horror Cinema, 1960-1969 [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn, foreword by Robert Tinnell.

Clark Senn Tinnell Sixties Shockers

Designed primarily as a reference book, Sixties Shockers is a comprehensive overview of a wide swath of horror cinema from the 1960s. It is organized into three principal sections. The first is “The Decade,” a chronological set of essays regarding the major cultural trends, social circumstances, and cinematic contributors of the period. It’s a good read, and it emphasizes the positives: innovations and transformations in the movies, along with their contexts and sources. The second section is “The Movies,” organized alphabetically by film title. Each entry includes basic filmographic data, a little clip of promotional prose (often hilarious), and a substantial review, usually with insider anecdotes about the production of the movie. The final section is “More Movies,” supplementing the second section with entries for genre-borderline movies, and movies produced in the 60s, but not shown (in the US, anyway) until later. For ease of use, I would have preferred that the third section have been folded in to the second. It is in a smaller font — presumably to indicate its lesser importance as well as to fit in the surplus material — and that font could have been kept as an editorial convention for the “More” entries, even if they were all alphabetized with the main set. 

The review elements are opinionated, but even-handed, dishing out praise and condemnation with equal facility. Despite their obvious enthusiasm for the genre, the authors are actually a bit harder on the individual films than I would be. For example, they pan one of my favorites: The Dunwich Horror (1969). That makes their enthusiastic reviews that much more intriguing, though.

Much of the movie-specific information in the first section is repeated in the entries for the relevant movies, which is probably for the best. A reader using the book as a specialized encyclopedia can be sure that all of its data on a particular movie are collected under its heading. The genre is rife with variant titles, and these are often given as cross-references at the heading level. The material production of the book is admirable: it’s large and solid, with abundant black-and-white illustrations reproducing stills from the movies as well as posters and other promotional literature. It’s not typo-free, but the text quality is reasonably high. The appended index is very useful for referencing particular producers, directors, and performers. 

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen: A Game of Tall Tales and Playing Roles as told by James Wallis [DriveThruRPG, Amazon, Publisher, Local Library], art by Gustav Doré and calligraphy by Paul Antonio.

Wallis Dore Antonio The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen

This Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a rule book for a game I haven’t played. In fact, I might never get around to playing it, but I don’t regret for a moment reading the full 130 pages, which are hilarious all the way through. It is not necessary to have familiarity with Rudolph Raspe’s original Munchausen stories from the 18th century in order to appreciate this book; even a secondhand acquaintance through the Terry Gilliam feature film will be sufficient.

The game described is one of competitive yarn-spinning, sort of like a table-top roleplaying game with a minimum of rules constraint and a retrospective rhetorical style. A frame-story relates author James Wallis’ ancestor’s encounter and collaboration with the original Baron, as well as his own rediscovery and continuation of the work of publishing the Baron’s game. The rules are digressive and somewhat confusing, but helpfully summarized “in brief” in a two-page appendix. Another appendix lists hundreds of play prompts or story challenges.

This third edition includes two expansions with a host of variants, including adaptation for younger players (“My Uncle the Baron”), thematic inflections (Arabian Nights, science fiction, occult horror, prehistory, 007-type espionage, cats, and others), and suggestions for online play, “whilst one has a sky-fish hooked on the line … using the vibrations of the fishing line to resonate with one another at a distance” (124).