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Stop Making Sense

I read anything that's nailed down, or even just moving slowly. Cereal boxes, candy wrappers, all genres, etc., and I don't always have much time for arbitrary distinctions like literary fiction vs. genre fiction.

Essays on Films that Changed the Industry...

Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies that Changed History - Joe Bob Briggs

Joe Bob Briggs has written a thoughtful, inside-baseball look at 15 movies that changed how we think of films. Here they are:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
Mom and Dad (1947)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
And God Created Woman (1956)
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Blood Feast (1963)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Shaft (1971)
Deep Throat (1972)
The Exorcist (1973)
Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1974)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Drunken Master (1978)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Crash (1996)

The most valuable thing about this book, in my view, is that Briggs gives the origins, context, and consequences for each of these films and their casts/crews, not just critiques of the films themselves. It does such a good job that I almost feel that I've seen them (when in reality, I've seen only three of them).

Briggs' style is authoritative and accessible, a winning combination. His biases do show up in a few places, particularly for the last two films listed, but they don't overwhelm the critique. The bibliography and index are most helpful, as well.

NOTE, however: Briggs does not pull punches in the language, background stories, or imagery, as you might guess based on the book's title. Some of these essays are not for the faint of heart--I do confess to getting queasy at times. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse and extreme violence, at a minimum.

If you're interested in how films come to be made, or in any of the listed films specifically, I can recommend this book, with the caveats above.