Friday, April 15, 2011

FFB: The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film By Michael Weldon

Just as Black Sabbath’s early albums were a blue print for heavy metal to come, so was the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film the blue print for cult Film Encyclopedia’s and guides to come. The books was an outgrowth of the psychotronic magazine, which started out as a newsletter before morphing into a zine, and then magazine. It was originally a guide for the kind of low rent junk that would show up on the late late late show, but as the VCR made it’s in roads, and more and more films became available to watch when ever you wanted, Psychotronic was thee place for those looking for something more than; recent hits, classics, or award winners.

I can’t say that it’s the first curated video guide, but it was the first successful one that I can recall. It’s success lies in its depth and range. And the simple idea that the films it covered were worth pointing the cult movie fan towards or a way from. While your Leonard Maltin or Roger Ebert covered as much as they could, Psychotronic focused in on the forgotten, the cheap, the z-grade, the cult and the just plain weird films, it was a place where you could read about 60s Biker Films, and 50s Monster Movies, that might not get the time of day in the other guides. This was a book for fringe film fans, and for those who would make MST3K a hit a decade later.

Today, it’s a dated guide; published in 1983 it’s missing almost 30 years of films from where we sit in 2011. However it’s merit as a guide and it’s coverage of the films that it includes make it well worth checking out. A Psychotronic Video Guide was published in the 1996, and Psychotronic Magazine continued through out the decade. It’s gone now, but not forgotten. It looked like the Internet was going to kill the need for guide books with its easy access to information about films, filmmakers and even access to films themselves via Hulu, Netflix, and youtube. However in the last year we have seen the publication of both Destroy All Movies and Swish Sensationfilms both of which owe a debt to the one and only Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film

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