If you’re a cult movie fan, you prob­a­bly have an eccen­tric def­i­n­i­tion of what makes a good celebri­ty inter­view sub­ject — and you’d prob­a­bly like to hear from sim­i­lar­ly unusu­al peo­ple in oth­er areas of the arts.  Unfortunately, col­lec­tions that cater to the­se sen­si­bil­i­ties are few and far between.  Thankfully, there are a hand­ful of alter­na­tive jour­nal­ists who have cre­at­ed inter­view com­pi­la­tions for this kind of fan: the RE/Search books blazed the trail and Gene Gregorits of Sex & Guts fame threw his hat in the ring not too long ago with Midnight Mavericks.

Dark Stars Rising by Shade Rupe is the lat­est addi­tion to this canon and it fits the per­son­al­ized style that fans of this jour­nal­ist gen­re crave.  It offers 27 inter­views plus an appen­dix full of reviews, all spread out across over 550 care­ful­ly-designed pages.  It’s worth not­ing that David Kerekes cre­at­ed the design and lay­out for the book, aid­ed and abet­ted by some cool art­work from Howard Forbes and a num­ber of rare pho­tos and ad mats gath­ered by Rupe.  The fin­ished pro­duct has a “fetish object” sort of intri­ca­cy to its look, a style that is ful­ly appro­pri­ate for an inter­view tome where the lead­ing the­me is artis­tic obses­sion.

The draw here for many read­ers will be the inter­views with cult film direc­tors, writ­ers and actors — and they can rest assured that Dark Stars Rising has plen­ty to offer in this cat­e­go­ry.  Over half the book is devot­ed to film­mak­ers and actors, plus a num­ber of oth­er artists who cross over into the cin­e­mat­ic realm occa­sion­al­ly.  On the “expect­ed” side of things, some major hor­ror gen­re peo­ple are cov­ered here: Chas Balun speaks can­did­ly about the dif­fi­cul­ties he faced try­ing to cross over from fan press writer to film­mak­er, Dennis Paoli gets into the day-to-day chal­lenges of being a work­ing screen­writer and a young Jim Van Bebber offer­ing plen­ty of ‘shoot from the hip’ opin­ions (he refers to the peo­ple at Troma as “dog rap­ers”).

There are also film­mak­er inter­views from the artier (but no less dan­ger­ous) end of the spec­trum:  Alejandro Jodorowsky par­tic­i­pates in a long and involved chat cov­er­ing all phas­es of his career, includ­ing some fas­ci­nat­ing stuff about his days as a cre­ator of the­atri­cal “hap­pen­ings,” and a chat with the con­tro­ver­sial Gaspar Noe deliv­ers strong opin­ions in a sur­pris­ing­ly relaxed and non-con­fronta­tion­al man­ner.

However, the best film-relat­ed inter­view on either side of the aisle is a lengthy, life-cov­er­ing con­ver­sa­tion with Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! star Tura Satana.  You’re like­ly to walk away with tremen­dous admi­ra­tion for this wom­an, who faced set­backs that would make even the strongest peo­ple with­er yet rebound­ed each time and did things on her own terms.  It’s a not a sur­vival sto­ry, it’s a champion’s sto­ry — and in light of her recent pass­ing, it is a fine trib­ute to her mem­o­ry.

However, there is more to Dark Stars Rising than just cin­e­mat­ic celebri­ties.  Interviews with über-con­tro­ver­sial writ­ers like nov­el­ist Dennis Cooper and zine-ist Peter Sotos take the read­er into their world of con­tro­ver­sy but do so in a way that side­steps the sala­cious side of the sto­ry to focus on what it’s like to obsess over trans­gres­sive con­tent in your work when the most of the world frowns on it.  There is also a tru­ly expan­sive inter­view with Teller (as in Penn and… ), who walks the read­er through his half-magic/half-performance art career as well as the expe­ri­ence of mak­ing Penn & Teller Get Killed.

The final piece of the puz­zle is the approach of inter­view­er Shade Rupe.  The inter­views here were con­duct­ed over many years and it is inter­est­ing to see his approach mature over time.  He’s not afraid to be chat­ty to get his sub­jects going (par­tic­u­lar­ly in the ear­ly stuff) and has pret­ty strong ideas about the work of the peo­ple he talks to… yet he gives them plen­ty of space to express their thoughts about their work and any num­ber of oth­er top­ics.  He usu­al­ly avoids the gener­ic topics/questions and instead gets his sub­jects to dis­cuss their work from an aes­thet­ic stand­point.  The lat­ter approach real­ly pans out in inter­views like the ones for per­for­mance artist Johanna Went and actor-turned-film­mak­er Crispin Glover, who go deep into the mind­sets that fuel their unusu­al styles of artsi­ness.

There are many more inter­views that could be touched on in this review — the irrev­er­ent­ly humor­ous anec­dotes of actor Udo Kier, the luck­less yet odd­ly inspi­ra­tional odyssey of film­mak­er-again­st-all-odds Richard Stanley — but per­haps it is best to let poten­tial read­ers dis­cov­er the­se things for them­selves.  If the inter­view sub­jects men­tioned here piqué your inter­est, you’ll want to carve out some space on the book­shelf for Dark Stars Rising.  You don’t get oppor­tu­ni­ties to hear from a group of artists like this very often.