Cult Epics: Comprehensive Guide to Cult Cinema was the subject of a successful IndieGoGo to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the label dedicated to releasing “the most sought-after, obscure, provocative and previously unknown films to the home video market.” Cult Epics produced a limited-edition hardcover art book about the films and their directors.
Fully illustrated with in-depth reviews, interviews, and essays from a variety of the best writers in genre film, Cult Epics is divided into three sections, highlighting the three varieties of films the company’s best known for releasing: arthouse, horror, and erotica. There’s quite a bit from Nathaniel Thompson, who runs Mondo Digital — my go-to for reviews and plot summaries of the weird things which pop up in my inbox and on Amazon Video — along with pieces by Nightmare USA’s Stephen Thrower, 10,000 Bullets’ Michael Den Boer, Mark R. Hasan of Rue Morgue, and the company’s founder, Nico B, among many others.
The best aspect of Cult Epics is the fact that the book offers up what are essentially capsule reviews of all of the films presented, but also excerpts interviews and photos from the booklets included with the DVDs and Blu-rays from the company. I mean, honestly — the book could’ve consisted of nothing but the booklets from the physical releases, based on the quality of what’s included, but the reviews offer up details on what makes Cult Epics’ videos so excellent.
Additionally, the fact that the company has put out definitive editions of several filmmakers’ filmographies allows the reader to get crash course introductions to cult directors like Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik, Der Todesking) and Walerian Borowczyk (The Beast, Love Rites), who rarely get literary pages devoted to them, but whose visions have resulted in amazingly resilient films, which still have the ability to shock. The in-depth interviews really illuminate why these directors did what they did, and how these films have continued to hold an appeal for fans.
The book gets a little repetitive during the Erotica section, but it’s a well-plotted overview of independent adult productions through the ages, going all the way back to the 1920s. The discussions and interviews with the likes of “pinup queen” Bettie Page and photographer Bunny Yeager provide a very necessary woman’s perspective on what could otherwise be lurid, drooling prose devoted to naked ladies.
Cult Epics begins and ends with words from the company’s Nico B, and you get to learn the whys and wherefores of how a Dutch film fan came to become a director and then release so many classic underrated, underground films. A complete catalog of Cult Epics’ releases is also available at the end of the book, as well. It’s a promotional tool, but honestly, it’s the best and most-varied collection of essays on cult cinema you’re likely to find for your bookshelf. Where else are you going to read about Death Bed: The Bed That Eats and Lickerish Quartet between the same covers?
Cult Epics: Comprehensive Guide to Cult Cinema is available in hardcover from Cult Epics.