Tuesday, March 21, 2006

CineFest report, Part 1

So, sneaky Pete I am, I was away at CineFest last week with my sweetie Marj. The annual gatherum of movie buffs, scholars, and diehard vet viewers in Syracuse, NY every March is an event my dear amigo G. Michael Dobbs introduced me to well over a decade ago, and I've been going ever since. This was Marj's tenth CineFest, so I reckon I've been going for at least thirteen years, maybe more.

CineFest runs four days, screening silents and pre-WW2 (nothing more recent than 1945) sound films from 9 AM every morn until about 2 AM. Every years is a different lineup, and with the sole exception of commemorative selections, every film is something otherwise unavailable (never on TV, not on vhs or DVD, and often unscreened since their original release), sometimes unique one-of-a-kind prints from around the world. The eclectic mix of short films and features always provide at least a couple of highlights per festival and usually one outstanding 'discovery' -- but that's not all that draws me to CineFest.

There's also a small but lively dealer's room, sometimes two, and year-after-year at least a handful of dependable always-show dealers (Doug Swarthout with the Berry Hill Book Shop offering an amazing selection of film-related books; Carl Hoglund with his massive inventory of lobby cards and stills -- milkcrates full of unsorted stills! -- etc.) are there, along with surprise dealers offering something fresh to CineFest. The tables of Doug and especially Carl are major destination points for me, and I can honestly say my vast stills collection wouldn't exist without Carl's annual infusion. There's always at least two or three dealers with eye-popping collectible one-sheets, and though the pricing is too dear for me (not a rip-off, mind you, just the going rate for vintage one-sheets in the 21st Century), these make for amazing galleries of one-sheets I'd otherwise never lay eyes on. So, it's all eye candy, and some of it I can sometimes afford.

The surprise item of the year this time around was a hot-off-the-press book by Canadian Gordon Reid, which Gordon himself (a familiar face and voice from past genre cons) was selling at one of the first tables in the main dealer's room. The Horror, Fantasy & Sci-Fi Movie Paperback Guide is a tidy 185-pg. illustrated overview/bibliography/semi-price guide to all the paperback movie adaptations and film books (e.g., illustrated screenplays are included) of yore, including a great 20-pg. color insert reproducing the key covers. This is the first book of its kind, and one movie pb collectors (like yours truly; another collection that's going to the HUIE/Henderson State University Bissette collection this year) will have to have on their shelves.

Gordon knows his stuff and offers a generous biblio for this peculiar merchandizing/promotional publishing vein, illustrated throughout with b&w repros of covers and back covers. Only the key books are 'priced' -- that is, listed with estimated current market value, invariably offered as a span (e.g., "$5-$20") -- so this isn't useful as a price guide so much as a book guide. As such, it's an incredibly invaluable tome, and for me the value was doubled thanks to Gordon's featuring among the color cover gallery previously unseen gems like the rare Dragon novelization for The Creature from the Black Lagoon. As a maiden voyage, it's pretty definitive, though some may find fault with Gordon's inclusion of the early '60s 'fumetti' zines (Warrens' The Mole People, The Horror of Party Beach, Curse of Frankenstein/Horror of Dracula photo-comics-format adaptations, Charlton's crude 'fumetti' Black Zoo) or exclusion of borderline genre pbs (Herschell Gordon Lewis's Moonshine Mountain, mondo pbs like Africa Addio, Brutes & Savages, etc.). These are things I'm sure Gordon will revisit in a future revised & expanded edition, along with the occasional gap (e.g., the FantaCo Enterprises reprints of both Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs novelizations), but as with the earliest 'guides' to monster zines, Gordon's pioneer effort is a ground-breaker, by its very nature inviting further analysis and research in hopes of uncovering those MIA titles and curios (tough tracking the regional pb presses; note the MIAs I've listed include four published-in-Florida titles).

All in all, a necessary addition to any genre library shelf, and a must-have book for those collecting movie tie-in paperbacks. Gordon's debut of this new book was so close to its publication that he was unsure whether it was listed at the publisher's website as yet, or available on amazon.com as yet -- but here's hoping it'll be in reach for all of you soon. Knowing it may not yet be available here, I'll still offer the publisher's website link here --
  • Monsoon Books of Milton, Ontario
  • -- and provide you with the ISBN number, for search purposes: ISBN 0-9739409-0-5.

    Congrats, Gordon -- great to see you, and best of luck with the new book. Recommended, one and all!

    (More on CineFest finds and fun later today...)


    Blogger Marty said...

    Cinefest? Never heard of it.

    Steve/Mike... why don't you guys tell me about these things!?

    Blogger Gordon Reid said...

    Thanks Steve!
    It was a real pleasure meeting Marj & you at CineFest. Thanks for your kind review of my latest book. Anyone interested can contact me at: gordr@hotmail.com
    Watch for my new blog: Gortomania "coming to a screen near you" in a day or so!
    Take care,

    Blogger SRBissette said...

    Hey, Marty -- I'll be posting info for contacting CineFest at the end of my 'report,' and I urge you to come. Bring some amigos -- not much genre fare, as a matter of course, but if you love movies (and I know you do), you'll love CineFest.

    Great to hear from you so soon, Gordon.

    I urge you all to contact Gordon ASAP if you're eager for a copy of the book -- it's a great piece of work, essential for those of you who are collectors!

    It was fantastic to see you, too, and to chat a bit, Gordon. I still can't recall where or when we first met -- it was some time ago, we're both a bit grayer now. I'll email you this morn... thanks for posting, glad you saw the review so promptly.


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