Author Lars nilsenAlamo Drafthouse, a longtime film programmer, and now the Austin Film Society’s chief film programmer, has written a definitive guide to operating cinema. Mondo Warped & Faded: Strange Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archives, edited by Kier-La Janisse (Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A Popular Horror Story) featuring many contributors to the genre, hits shelves to November 16, 2021.
Warped and faded it’s more than 400 colorful pages dedicated to the strangest cinema, based on personal stories, essays, newspaper clippings and photos. Part of the oral history of Alamo Drafthouse’s best-known programming series and part of the collection of films that have been screened throughout the history of the program, Warped and faded offers everything from cult favorites to deep and deep cuts for the movie buff. It is an expansive and passionate dive into the history of cinema made accessible to all but which will especially appeal to fans of exploitation and fans of offbeat cinema. It will also deepen your appreciation of what it takes to schedule directory screenings.
For the book’s release, Nilsen curated an exclusive horror exploit roster for Bloody Disgusting, in accordance with Warped and fadedInformative and mind-blowing genre guide, including during its screening for Weird Wednesday.
Nilsen explains: “In the years leading up to the transformation of Alamo Drafthouse’s Weird Wednesday horror movie titles into their own iconic night (Terror Thursday – later Terror Tuesday), we’ve played a lot of horror movies. The ones I’ve picked here aren’t necessarily the scariest, but I don’t think we’ll hear any complaints about their lackluster or conventional character. These are films that each seem to open the door to a unique spooky world with their own set of rules, from surrealism a la Max Ernst of THRILL OF THE VAMPIRES to the cough-syrup-drunk continuity nightmares of BOARDINGHOUSE.
Andy Milligan, USA / UK, 1970
Playing date (s): July 6, 2005
Andy Milligan has made movies cheaper than anyone before or since. It delivered 35mm feature films (exploded from 16mm) with budgets under $ 10,000 apiece. At these prices, a distributor doesn’t have to wait very long to start making a profit. So Milligan got the chance to make some of the strangest, most personal exploitation films of all time. He produced, wrote, shot, edited, directed and even made the costumes for all of his films. His casts consisted largely of prostitutes, drug addicts, and other street people. Whatever bad things one can say about Andy Milligan’s films, they all come from the heart. And Andy Milligan’s heart was a black, malformed little thing that pumped hate instead of blood. His films are plots of poisonous garbage, made by a miserable person and depicting the continuing adventures of hateful people whose only reason for living is to make others suffer. Milligan’s characters can barely walk through a simple exhibition scene without bickering and fuming. This relentless misanthropic perspective makes Milligan’s films sublimely entertaining for people with a very dark and depraved sense of humor. Bloodthirsty butchers is Milligan’s version of Sweeney Todd’s story, about a murderous barber plying his trade with a straight razor. Blood and gore are plentiful but insignificant compared to the spiritual violence the characters inflict on each other. As Michael Weldon wrote: “If you are an Andy Milligan fan, there is no hope for you.
John Wintergate, United States, 1982
Playing date (s): October 9, 2002
This totally insane micro-budget horror film has baffled and above all thrilled anyone who has encountered it. To reduce costs, it was shot and edited on videotape and transferred to film. Don’t just ignore this part. It affects all aspects of the viewing experience. In the same way that a beautiful location or score can transfigure a movie and smooth out the rough parts, here the crappy picture quality is brought home with every blurry and oversaturated picture. Fortunately, there are other compensations, especially writer-director-star John Wintergate’s performance as a telekinetic entrepreneur who turns a haunted house into a bed and breakfast for attractive women. A truly unforgettable experience.
DEVIL TIMES FIVE
Sean MacGregor, United States, 1974
Playing date (s): August 4, 2004
Let’s face it. Children are scary. Not all children, of course, and not all of the time. But in movies like The Exorcist and that of David Cronenberg the brood, children are far scarier than any maniac or mysterious black-glove killer. But imagine, if you dare, a dream team of child killers led by future teen idol Leif Garrett, and you’ll have all of your nightmares planned for the next – oh, 40, or 50. And even though this is a schlocky and ridiculously bad movie, we can pretty much guarantee a deadly silence in the theater when this brave bunch of youngsters bring evil. We leave it up to you to decide which genre is more frightening: the precocious transvestite, the arsonist, the “nun,” the kid in military fatigues barking orders like a Navy Drill Sergeant, or Leif Garrett, who for a whatever reason, acts like a cynical and tired 40 year old backgammon champion. For our money, it’s Leif all the way. He makes Hannibal Lecter look like a baby Muppet. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
THE FRESH OF VAMPIRES
Jean Rollin, France, 1971
Playing date (s): January 11, 2006
Jean Rollin’s drugged surreal sex vampire films are considered a bit excessive by fans of more mainstream horror films. Fuck these moms boys. Jean Rollin’s films are so great that I would personally go to war for them if I had to. For years, I’ve had weird looks every time I rave about Rollins’ Man Ray pulp art masterpieces like The naked vampire, Caged virgins, Schoolgirl Hitchhikers, and that. Rollins’ films are virtual encyclopedias of fetishistic sex images and horror films, tied together under the most fragile pretexts of a dime novel of a plot. But they garnered an enthusiastic audience among the students in Paris, who watched these bizarre films alongside the skid-row popeyes in the theaters of Pigalle. In this regard, they form a continuity through the generations with the silent soap operas by Louis Feuillade, which also had minuscule budgets and performed in flea theaters for an enthusiastic audience of pickpockets and Bolsheviks in the 1920s. gorgeous French sex star Sandra Julian (i am a nymphomaniac) and a beautiful vampire who sleeps in a grandfather clock. Music by the progressive rock band Acanthus. An unmissable cinematic experience.
THE VELVET VAMPIRE
Stéphanie Rothman, United States, 1971
Playing Date (s): October 26, 2005 / October 28, 2009
Stephanie Rothman provided some of the most memorable Weird Wednesday movies: Nursing students and Terminal Island. This is perhaps his strangest, one-of-a-kind Aquarius sex vampire epic. Although made in America, the film incorporates many of the techniques we associate with artistic European horror films – an emphasis on storytelling through color, slow psychedelic fades, and that old eve: abundant nudity. There’s a school of thought that horror movies need a strong sexual component, whether it’s explicit or sublimated, or they just don’t have the impact you want. Obviously, Rothman took a few classes at this school herself, as this movie deals with vampirism as a sexual dynamic. And Celeste Yarnall, as the title’s bloodsucker, provides a clear sexual orientation for this film about a bleached and tasteless blonde Californian couple who find themselves trapped in a vampire’s lair in the desert. Better than you would expect and perhaps the only vampire movie to successfully incorporate dune buggies. With a completely unexpected cameo appearance from legendary Delta bluesman Johnny Shines, who plays “Evil Hearted Woman.”
Discover the history of Weird Wednesday and an impressive catalog of cinema with Warped and faded, available now here.