JOURNAL OF INTERSTITIAL CINEMA #6: Deep Catalog Thrills For Serious Film Cultists

As Schlockmania has said before, The Journal Of Interstitial Cinema is the best cult movie mag you’ve never read.  Unlike today’s blog-driven film culture, the pseudonymous authors behind this publication favor research, genuine critical thought about popular culture and the art of the long read.

Issue #6 dishes up the  witches’ brew of deep catalog cinematic obsessions that the Journal‘s readers have come to expect. The articles are divided amongst three authors: magazine founders R.J. Wheatpenny and Grog Ziklore plus newer recruit the Po Man. Their work freely mingles high and low culture as all angles are explored with intelligence and a dash of old-school zinester wit.

The Po Man carries his weight in a major way, contributing no less than three in-depth interviews.  The subjects of these interviews include Tom Stern, a character actor who dabbled in cult filmmaking with Hells Angels ’69 and Clay Pigeon, and William B. Branch, a playwright who worked with Michael Schultz early in his directing career.  Both have interesting and frank views about commercial filmmaking and its heartbreaks.

However, the killer amongst the Po Man’s interviews is a sitdown with Gary Crutcher that focuses on his work on the obscure doc The Man In The Iron Cage.  Crutcher is a treasure and his sardonic, sometimes ribald tales of hustling on the fringes of Hollywood are worthy of being made into a docu-drama.  Po Man also does some non-interview stuff here, including a look at an unproduced Albert Zugsmith sexploitation riff on secret agents and a quirky piece that ties together Jimmy Stewart, the Boy Scouts of America and collecting patches(!).

Ziklore also turns up an interview: in this case, a return engagement with underground filmmaker and JOIC favorite Damon Packard.  If you’ve ever read a chat with Packard, he’s got a lot of mordant things to say about Hollywood, the state of film culture and the travails of shoestring filmmaking in Los Angeles.

Ziklore also contributes an interesting retrospective on Black Moon Rising, including some info on the development of the script, and a variety of short pieces.  Faves in the latter category include a look at the action films of Chad McQueen and reports on screenings of John Carpenter’s student shorts and obscurities salvaged from the unpaid shelf of a film development lab.

Wheatpenny’s contributions round things out, offering a mix of short and long work.  The short pieces include a review of an overlooked recent Ruggero Deodato film about the Amanda Knox murder case (!) and a future-shock essay about what purpose movie theaters might serve in the year 2034.

That said, Wheatpenny really shines in his long reads and he contributes two stunners near the end of the magazine.  The first is an in-depth look at French icon Alain Delon’s film work during the 1970’s, a decade that included everything from acclaimed work in his homeland to the head-scratching The Concorde: Airport ’79.  It’s an artful piece that mixes keen critical insight with an impressive knowledge of Delon’s life and career.

The other is a great piece about blackmail attempts on actors during Hollywood’s “wild west” early days.  It’s funny yet heartbreaking as it explores the connection between petty crime and the part of the American psyche that longs to torment and profit off the famous.

The work of the three writers adds up to the kind of publication – all in tiny typeface that demands a well-lit reading nook – that you’ll want to spend days savoring.  A lot of work, thought and bloody-minded obsessiveness went into this issue of The Journal Of Interstitial Cinema – and if you’re serious about your cult cinema, you should explore its arcane wonders for yourself.  Click here for info on purchasing this and other JOIC issues:

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